At a time when the West End is bombarded with comedies and dramas, many are welcoming an exciting thriller with open arms. Strangers On A Train provides an impressive and exhilarating theatrical experience. The play beholds all the magic you would expect to find in a 1950s Hitchcock movie as well as the spectacle you would expect to see in a modern piece of theatre.
While many are familiar with Hitchcock’s 1951 film adaptation of Strangers On A Train, the play is very different and based on Patricia Highsmith’s novel which was published in 1950. Two strangers meet on a train and it turns out that both men wish a loved one dead. Guy (Laurence Fox) has grown tired of his wife's promiscuous behaviour while Bruno (Jack Huston) desires his father's fortune. Bruno, who is a psychopath, suggests that they swap murders. Guy declines the offer but Bruno still goes ahead with the first murder and will do anything in his power to ensure Guy sticks to the plan.
Both Laurence Fox and Jack Huston give strong performances. They are joined by a highly experienced cast including Christian McKay, Miranda Raison, Imogen Stubbs and MyAnna Buring. At times certain characters lack depth; it seems Robert Allan Ackerman has put most of his effort into the spectacle of this piece, which is very impressive.
It takes time for the style to settle down, but as soon as it does Strangers On A Train is stunning. Tim Goodchild's design is breathtaking. The stage revolves showcasing major set changes, yet not once did I hear a crash or bang – I do not have a clue how the backstage crew manage it. The slick design keeps the piece going; very few scenes drag on too long.
Craig Warner's writing is extremely clever, particularly with the introduction of the Private Inspector during the second act. Many ahh’s and ooh’s could be heard from the audience. I was certainly sitting on the edge of my seat during the build up to the dramatic finale. I never quite knew what was going to happen next.
There is nothing quite like Strangers On A Train in the West End at the moment. If you fancy a good thriller you really must ensure you see this brilliant production. As soon as the story was established I found myself completely transfixed.
Reviewed by Andrew Tomlins
Reviewed on Wednesday 20th November 2013
Strangers On A Train is currently booking at the Gielgud Theatre until 22nd February 2014.