The Vertigo train is definitely high speed

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It is a high-speed train that leaves from Vertigo station.

In two hours, director Jack Grinhaus’s production of The Girl on the Train has to cover the many clever twists and turns that unfold across the 320 pages of Paula Hawkins’ runaway 2015 bestseller.

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British playwrights Duncan Abel and Rachel Wagstaff, who adapted the novel and the 2016 film based on it, scaled down the plot considerably, turning it into a vehicle for seven actors, which is, in itself, an astonishing feat. It becomes a basic psychological thriller, of who did what and why.

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Rachel Watson (Lauren Brotman) wakes up from another of her frequent alcoholic stupors with a cut on her forehead and blood on her hands. She only remembers fragments of those frequent blackouts that ruined her marriage and caused her to lose her job, leaving her alone, depressed and desperate. What’s left of Rachel’s life is as messy and pitiful as her apartment.

The Girl on the Train from Vertigo Theater with Lauren Brotman and Jamie Konchak. Courtesy of Fifth Wall Media Photo by Tim Nguyen Co. /Tim Nguyen Co.

She’s just poured herself a morning vodka when her ex-husband Tom (Tyrell Crews) arrives to tell her that her neighbor Megan Hipwell (Filsan Dualeh) is missing and that the police will probably be nearby to talk to Rachel because she was in the neighborhood last night. . Rachel had broken into the house she once shared with Tom to harass his new wife Anna (Anna Cummer) and her young daughter, something quite common when she is drunk.

This is where things get complicated because Rachel has been spying on Megan and her husband Scott (Stafford Perry) for months from the train she rides into the city every day. She fantasized that Megan and Scott were a perfect couple, and perhaps her envy went too far.

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Rachel has to try to solve Megan’s disappearance before Inspector Glaskill (Jamie Konchak) finds her as the prime suspect.

Rachel’s amateur investigation will take her from her apartment to Megan’s house, Tom and Anna’s house, the police station, the office of Megan’s psychologist Kamal Abdic (Mike Tan), various outdoor locations and even the train itself. . This is achieved with astonishing technical wizardry, courtesy of Hanne Loosen’s highly innovative and inventive set, Brendan Briceland’s projection designs, Narda McCarroll’s atmospheric lighting, and Allison Lynch’s music and sound designs. The set is always as alive as the actors themselves, and Grinhaus has the actors move the set pieces, contributing greatly to the overall visual effect.

As Rachel, Brotman gives a confident, carefully calculated performance. Rachel’s life may be chaotic, but there’s nothing random about Brotman’s performance. He is beautifully modulated. Before Rachel started drinking, she was a witty, intelligent, and vital woman, and Brotman lets us see glimpses of this, especially in the scenes with Konchak and Tan, where he can deliver insults and ideas as quickly as they can.

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Filsan Dualeh and Stafford Perry in The Girl on the Train at Vertigo Theatre. Courtesy of Fifth Wall Media Photo by Tim Nguyen Co. /Tim Nguyen Co.

It would be unfair to comment too much on the other performances without revealing some vital clues, but suffice it to say that these are actors who know how to dish out clues and red herrings.

Crews is helpful, understanding and accommodating. There’s a bit of shrewishness in Cummer’s Anna, some macho posturing from Perry, and plenty of condescension from Tan. Dualeh shows the pain that drives Megan’s actions, and Konchak’s superior bravado is an obvious professional façade.

Grinhaus knows that the entire setup for The Girl on the Train is ridiculous. It’s very easy for Rachel to insinuate herself into every other character’s space, let alone her own lives. She’s like an alcoholic Miss Marple, but that’s the fun of watching her solve her disappearance and possible murder. Grinhaus realizes that it is better for the audience to laugh with you than at you, so he emphasizes the humor of the situations. There are great laughs in the show and great sustained levity, which throws the audience off balance with some gasps, as when Rachel and Scott’s attempts to comfort each other turn into passion. The audience was silent, not sure what to expect, and this is a great plot on Grinhaus’s part.

One of the big problems with The Girl on the Train, and it starts with the script, is that the emotional and physical risks are very low. We don’t really fear for the characters, especially Rachel, as we should, given that there’s a sadistic, malicious killer watching everything he does. The final confrontation should be much scarier and tense than it is.

The Girl on the Train is a trip worth taking and runs on Vertigo until April 14. It will work completely differently for people who are familiar with the novel or movie than for people who are blissfully unaware that such vehicles exist.

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