Sunday, May 26

Strangers On A Train

- January 11, 2018

‏Without doubt, taking on this classic Patricia Highsmith thriller is an ambitious task, complex in its plotting and geography as well as in its human psychology. But there is no doubt that in undertaking the project the company have created something compelling, captivating and worthwhile. It may seem a little long and in places wordy, but Craig Warner’s script is excellent and challenging too and the cast certainly have their work cut out in delivering great swathes of complex dialogue. I enjoyed that, and any misgivings about length are far more to do with comfort than with quality.

‏As for the performances there are some real gems, Jack Ashton is wonderfully fragile and vulnerable as Guy Haines, Hannah Tointon’s Anne is suitably feminine and even brittle, and as the gentle silliness gives way to the reality of her, and her husband’s terrible situation she really comes into her own. Helen Anderson is wonderful as Charles Bruno’s doting and indulgent mother, the perfect society dame, floating in denial until the final scenes. Chris Harper, hot from his villainous role in Coronation Street had, I suspect, the most to prove, as do all soap stars on returning to the stage. He acquitted himself with honour, his portrayal of the disturbed and booze-fuelled spoilt brat and mummy’s boy Charlie Harper hangs by the merest thread between sanity and total craziness, and if I had one complaint it would be that his performance could be more balanced and colourful if that progression from manic to maniac was slower and more measured – but for certain this was an exciting and accomplished performance.

‏The whole production is held together by the most incredible staging from designer David Woodhead, Americana delivered with nods to Jasper Johns, Edward Hopper and a complex yet incredibly slick mechanical set that seamlessly shifts from location to location with almost cinematic grace. I seldom say this but the set was perhaps the star of the show, a scene-stealer if scenes can steal.

‏Theatre Royal Brighton, 10 January 2018
Rating: ★★★★½
‏Andrew Kay

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