By Hilary Porter

THIS new production of The Girl on the Train is a first class thriller filled with dramatic twists and turns from start to finish.

Based on the internationally acclaimed number one best-selling novel by Paula Hawkins and the Dreamworks film it certainly does them justice.

Almost from the moment the curtain rises on protagonist Rachel Watson's pedestrian life in a shabby kitchen cluttered with empty bottles and takeaway cartons we are hooked.

The idealised vision she has of a 'perfect' life - witnessed each day from the train is the catalyst for what takes place- her view of reality all the more blurred by her constant drinking.

But is everyone else's life happier, more interesting and fulfilled as she imagines in her isolated, lonely world as a commuter?

Huge praise should go to Samantha Womack - best known as Ronnie Mitchell in EastEnders, who is exceptional as Rachel. Forever on stage with endless dialogue she is utterly convincing.

Rachel seeks escapism through the happy and in love couple she secretly observes each day. When she learns the woman has suddenly disappeared, she finds herself as a witness and even a suspect drawn into their world.

Oliver Farnworth, who is best known for playing Andy Carver in Coronation Street also shines as the Scott and there are all-round strong performances from John Dougall as DI Gaskill, Naeem Hayatt as Kamal Abdic, Adam Jackson-Smith as Tom Watson, Lowenna Melrose as Anna Watson, and Kirsty Oswald as Megan Hipwell.

The sets are designed by James Cotterill to reflect the dark hole that Rachel talks about in her memory as she loses her grip on her identity. So the action takes place in confined spaces, like living rooms and kitchens, a police cell, an interrogation room - only really going outdoors to the wasteland by the train tracks where the body is found.

A runaway success - be sure to grab a ticket!

The Girl on the Train runs until Saturday February 9.

Tickets: 02380 711811 or online at