60 seconds with...Samantha Womack

Thriller fans are in for a treat with the stage adaptation of Paula Hawkins’ 2015 bestselling novel, The Girl On The Train. We catch some time with Eastenders star Samantha Womack to find out more.

You play the lead character, Rachel Watson, a 32-year old alcoholic who thinks the couple she sees from her computer train every day are perfectly in love until the wife disappears and Rachel finds herself both a witness and a potential suspect. Was it hard to convincingly portray an alcoholic?

It’s a really hard thing to do. Drink is like a truth syrup that removes all the boundaries so rather than a comical element, with the slurring and slipping up, I think Rachel’s just completely unpredictable. It’s about what happens when she’s drunk and where does her brain go?

You’re on stage the entre show, was that a challenge after TV work?

There are about 70 pages of dialogue for me to learn. It’s like playing Hamlet. I never shut up.  It wasn’t until the middle of rehearsals that it hit me that ‘Oh, it’s basically just one long scene for me’. I never get to leave the stage and regroup. One scene leads me straight into another and it’s like a dance.

Do you respond well then to the pressures of live performance? 

I’m a control freak. From the minute I’m on stage, it can’t be edited. I love the immediacy of theatre. I love being on a train and not getting off until it’s done. 

The book and then the film starring Emily Blunt were huge successes. What is it about the character of Rachel Watson that speaks to so many people?  

There’s something about Rachel’s devil-may-care rebellion that appeals to lots of people. She says what you shouldn’t say, she thinks what you shouldn’t think, she’s a victim of circumstance and you have sympathy for her because of everything she’s been through.

And if you’ve read the book and seen the film, what does the stage adaptation bring to the story? 

Yes we are replicating the story but crucially there are changes and nuances that make it very different. I hope that by the time they leave the theatre, people been shaken about a bit.

The Girl On The Train is at The King’s Theatre Edinburgh, Mon 25 to Sat 30 March.

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