From the intrigues of Walford to a thriller ripe with Hitchcockian voyeurism, former EastEnders actress Samantha Womack takes the lead role in the stage adaptation of The Girl on The Train, which is at Dublin’s Bord Gáis Energy Theatre this June.
Watch our interview with Samantha Womack:
Based on Paula Hawkins’ 2015 novel, which sold 20 million copies, it tells the story of a troubled woman who becomes ensnared in a gripping mystery with more twists and turns than Brexit.
Womack plays Rachel Watson, who has separated from her husband and lost her job. Instead of facing up to reality, she seeks solace in the bottom of a bottle and in order to distract herself, begins watching a couple, Megan and her husband Scott, from the train on her daily commute into work, envying their seemingly idyllic lifestyle.
However, all is not as it seems . . . Speaking to RTÉ Entertainment, Womack said, "It’s about a woman who came from a broken marriage, she lost her job and she couldn’t have a baby. It’s about coercive control. It’s a dark thriller, there’s a murder, there’s some laughs and I play an alcoholic."
"I’ll always look back fondly on EastEnders. It was a great time in my life."
The play, which also stars Mr Selfridge and Coronation Street actor Oliver Farnworth, can is a physically and mentally demanding role for the 46-year-old actress. "Interestingly, at the beginning of the tour of the show people kept asking me that and I’d say `it’s just a job! It’s fine, it’ll be easy' and now I’m knackered! Because Rachel is quite some head to get into to.
"She’s very disorientated, very unpredictable and by the second half she gets into a place where she’s actually quite traumatised and I never leave the stage so it’s like a two-hour rollercoaster ride for me, which is great when you’re doing one show but on two shows days, by the end of it you actually do need a stiff drink."
The Girl on the Train also taps into today’s culture/blight of surveillance capitalism and social media. "We have a lot of teenagers coming to the show who can really relate to the fact that people are now looking at everything through a screen in the same way as in Hitchcock’s Rear Window," says Womack.
"It’s a dark thriller, there’s a murder, there’s some laughs and I play an alcoholic."
"But now they’re looking through the windows of their screens at supposed perfection into other people’s lives but, of course, that’s never the case."
Brighton-born Womack began her show business career in 1991 aged 18 when she represented the UK at the Eurovision Song Contest, coming 10th with the song A Message to Your Heart. She shot to fame during her time on lad culture sitcom Game On in the mid-90s, and has also starred in two Kingsman films.
More recently, she starred as troublemaker Ronnie Mitchell on EastEnders. Her character was finally killed off in 2017.
"I’ll always miss Ronnie," Womack says. "She was a large part of my life. I speak to Rita Simons, who played my sister on the show so much every day so I haven’t lost her but I’ll always look back fondly on that show. It was a great time in my life."
Alan Corr @CorrAlan2
The Girl on the Train is at Bord Gáis Energy Theatre from June 3 to 8