Review - Strangers from a Train at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre
It seems like the perfect murder. Two men, two different murders. No motive, the perfect way for both our leads to get away with a heinous crime.
For this is the premise of Strangers on a Train, based on Patricia Highsmith's novel and a story made famous by Alfred Hitchcock's tense thriller when two strangers meet on a train and agree to swap murders. For Guy Haines, it involves killing Charles Bruno's monsturous father and the latter needs to see off Guy's troublesome ex-wife.
And what should have been the recipe for a tense and interesting thriller is unfortunately hamstrung by its own script. There's several times when the show keeps repeating things, especially in the first half, which don't add to the tension. It's a problem that many plays seem to have is an inability to keep it tight. This is especially important for a thriller which relies on tension.
Anyone expecting either a straight adaptation of either the film or the original novel will also be disappointed as the ending is completely different. I'll avoid spoiling it for anyone who wants to see it. It also for some curious reason removes the homosexual subtext which would explain why Charles' keeps coming into Guy's life when the deed is done.
For many of the shows this would be a death-knell but there is plenty to keep the interest. The set design is incredibly clever and ambitious, perhaps too ambitious as you can see flats wobbling in the background which does remind one of Victoria Wood's spoof Acorn Antiques. But it is a design to be commended, especially with all of the different locations in the story and how in transforms looks effortless but it probably won't be.
The acting is also pretty good, Chris Harper is particularly good as the foppish Charles Bruno and Jack Ashton plays the tortured Guy very well. Hannah Tointon's Anne is a rather thankless part, essentially being the straight woman when her husband goes mad, but she's sympathetic and enduring to watch.
I wanted to like Strangers on a Train so much, all of the ingredients were there for a fantastic stage show. But somehow it didn't quite come together, lagging just a little too much for me even though there is a lot to admire and like.
Strangers on a Train can be seen at Aylesbury's Waterside Theatre until Saturday March 24. Tickets for the show can be booked by calling the box office on 0844 871 7607 or by visiting www.atgtickets.com/venues/aylesbury-waterside-theatre/