Strangers on a Train

Posted by Laurence Green

Stage versions of successful movies don’t always hit the mark but this is not the case with Robert Allan Ackerman’s taut production of Strangers on a Train at Gielgud Theatre.

Strangers on a Train, Gielgud Theatre

A seemingly innocent conversation soon turns into a nightmarish and dangerous reality for architect Guy Haines when he meets Goosy playboy Charles Bruno on a train journey. Bruno suggests that they each kill the thorn in the other’s side – Bruno’s dominating father and Guy’s unfaithful wife. But what seems on the surface like a blueprint for the perfect murder turns into a lethal nightmare of blackmail and psychological torment that threatens to cost Guy his career, his marriage and his sanity.

Based on Patricia Highsmith’s 1950 novel rather than the famous Alfred Hitchcock thriller, this is a stylish, highly charged production that nevertheless loses some of its tension in the second half. Ackerman, though, pays enormous debt to Hitchcock with his visually inventive staging  - the evening begins startlingly with a filmic image of an onrushing train and Tim Goodchild’s busily revolving set , wreathed in silver high and curling cigarette smoke, not to mention Peter Wilms’s clever ride projections which enable us to see the see the landscapes through which the train is passing, together with the creepy Bernard Hermann-like score, conjure up a palpable atmosphere of suspense and dread.

Jack Huston oozes both charm and menace as the psychotic, white-suited Southern mamma’s boy, Bruno, while Laurence Fox is equally effective as the more contemplative Guy who is drawn into the fateful pact with his travelling companion and Imogen Stubbs vamps it up as Bruno’s blonde-haired mother. Good support is provided by Mirdnda Raison, all cool, high-society poise, as Guy’s innocent second wife Anne and Christian McKay as the implacable private investigator Gerard, a pin0striped crusader intent on finding the killer of Bruno’s father.

After watching this play you will certainly think twice about talking to a stranger on a train!

Runs until February 22, 2014                          

Box office: 0844 482 5130

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