Published on February 18, 2014 | by Karma Symington0
Theatre review: Strangers on a Train
After being a huge fan of the Alfred Hitchcock film – renowned for its classic mise-en-scene, explosive narrative plot and the introduction of voyeurism in cinema – I was extremely excited to watch Craig Warner’s stage adaptation.
Based on the novel by Patricia Highsmith, the production remains faithful to the book’s plot throughout, providing us with an all-round, high-quality thriller. Despite its loyalty to the print version, this stage production pays impressive homage to Hitchcock’s 1951 film, bringing cinema to life in the medium that is West End theatre.
The staging is stunning; Tim Goodchild’s busily revolving set is bathed in Peter Wilms’ video projections so that we see the landscape through which the train is passing, which is all very visually pleasing. The soundtrack used is eerily reminiscent of the scores written for Hitchcock himself (Psycho shower scene, anyone?), building the tension that adds to the premise of the story.
The play’s tagline reads: “Two strangers. One conversation. The perfect murder.” A seemingly innocent conversation between Guy Haines, played by Laurence Fox, and Charles Bruno, portrayed by Jack Huston, turns menacing when their plot to kill results in a lethal nightmare of blackmail and psychological torment that threatens to cost Haines his career, his marriage and his sanity.
His choice is to kill, or to be framed for a murder he didn’t commit. Both lead actors carry this plot brilliantly, creating a believable and authentic journey for the audience.
In true Hitchcock fashion there are twists and turns and a climax that is both gripping and shocking. The only possible shortcoming to this piece is that audiences who are more familiar with the film, rather than the book, might find the plot slightly confusing.
Overall, with the thriller genre in the West End being scarce – The Woman in Black being the exception – Strangers on a Train is a welcome roller coaster of tension and suspense that will have you on edge throughout.