STRANGERS ON A TRAIN: Patricia Highsmith (adapted by Craig Warner).
Theatre Royal: Tkts 0115 989 5555 www.royalcentre-nottingham.co.uk.
Runs: 2h 15m: one interval: till 27th August.
Performance times: 7.30pm weekdays and 8.00pm Sat (Matinees 2.00pm Weds and 5.00pm Sat).
Review: Alan Geary: 22nd August 2011.
Film noir on stage. Nottingham’s Thriller Season at its best.
From time to time, over the years, a Nottingham Thriller Season production leaps out at you. It gets up and says that they could easily put the Thriller Season to one side and run it alone as a first-class production in its own right. Gaslight a few years back was a case in point; this Strangers on a Train is another. Directed by Nicholas Briggs, it’s a world away from last week’s caper.
Based on the gripping Patricia Highsmith novel, it was a Hitchcock film in the early fifties; and there’s a lot of the film noir about it. Geoff Gilder’s split-level, three location set is ideal for the sort of production this is; it’s highly cinematic – fast moving, episodic and slick.
A basically decent, law-abiding man on one of those long and comfortable American train trips meets a manipulative psychotic who draws him into a nightmarish web of murder and deceit. It’s chilling, psychologically plausible and disturbing.
We already knew that nearly everyone in the thriller season company is a good actor, but this production gives them scope to demonstrate it anew. They do just that.
Some of the most chilling yet toe-curling encounters are between Charles Bruno and his mother Elsa Bruno. The latter is played by Chris Sheridan, who captures superbly the crazed obsessiveness of his man; Karen Henson is his ever-loving Mommy, willing Charles into an unspoken Oedipal relationship.
Sam Clemens, with his open, ringing voice, is first-rate as Guy Haines, the promising young architect. Jo Castleton, playing younger than her age, is completely convincing as Anne Faulkner his new bride. It’s harrowing to watch their tragedy being played out.
Without this being your fun frock-fest as such, Geoff Gilder’s early fifties costumes are nonetheless scrumptious.
Get your coat on and go out and see Strangers on a Train. It deserves to be back – soon.
Charles Bruno: Chris Sheridan.
Guy Haines: Sam Clemens.
Elsie Bruno: Karen Henson.
Anne Faulkner: Jo Castleton.
Frank Myers: Al Naed.
Robert Treacher: Jeremy Lloyd Thomas.
Arthur Gerard: John Hester.
Director/Sound Designer: Nicholas Briggs.
Set and Costume Designer: Geoff Gilder.
Assistants to Mr Gilder: Al Naed and Sarah Wynne Kordas.
Lighting: Michael Donoghue.