Review: Strangers on a Train at Cambridge Art Theatre is full of menace, mania and humour

PUBLISHED: 10:01 27 February 2018 | UPDATED: 10:22 27 February 2018

Strangers on a Train at Cambridge Arts Theatre

Strangers on a Train at Cambridge Arts Theatre

Archant

The theatrical version of crime writer Patricia Highsmith’s first novel, Strangers on a Train, is ingeniously staged at Cambridge Arts Theatre.

David Woodhead’s set opens with a train. It changes to old mansion houses, a snazzy flat and finally a rail yard with billowing smoke.

This is a splendid setting for some bravura performances and a glorious session of high drama.

Chris Harper (as seen on Coronation Street as well as Shakepeare’s Globe) is inspirational as the villain Charles Bruno. Here is a masterclass in menace, mania and humour. He wrings the last ounce out of every line. His interpretation is definitive and will never be bettered.

Jack Ashton (The vicar in Call the Midwife) playing the hapless Guy Haines, changes wonderfully from a happy and confident young man, to the harrowed anti-hero as he realises he has stumbled into a deep pit he cannot climb out of.

The story, written in 1950, was an instant success and became a Hitchcock film the following year. Highsmith went on to write a series on Mr Ripley.

Strangers has two men meeting for the first time as passengers on a train. As they talk about people who irritate them, one, the insidious, Charles Bruno who has foisted his company on the other, suggests swapping murders so the crimes can never be traced back to them. The other, the hapless Guy Haines, casually laughs and says yes thinking it’s a joke. He is shocked later when he finds Bruno has kept his side of this devil’s deal.

Worse than that, Bruno now stalks Haines and even turns up at his wedding.

Great supporting performances here from Helen Anderson as Elsie, Bruno’s mother and Hannah Tointon as Anne Faulkner, Haine’s bride.

The piece has a great rhythm to it as if the whole thing is being performed during a train journey, with a fast pace and the scenes constantly shifting. An intriguing night at the theatre with masters of the craft.

Strangers on a Train is at Cambridge Arts Theatre until Saturday, March 3.

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Royston Crow visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Royston Crow staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Royston Crow account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More news stories

11:52

A trio of Meldreth pupils has met the Greater Cambridge Partnership Board, to promote the Melbourn to Royston cycle/walking link.

Yesterday, 17:57

Pupils at Therfield First School have taken part in their Gift of Giving project – which is now an annual tradition.

Yesterday, 16:25

Police have released CCTV images of a woman they would like to speak to as part of enquiries following an incident of shoplifting in Royston yesterday afternoon.

Yesterday, 12:23

The great nephew of a First World War soldier who lived in Shepreth and Fowlmere before settling in Belgium has spoken about his “tremendous” uncle – whose longing for home-soil creature comforts saw him brew his own now-famous beer weeks before the armistice.

Most read stories

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition

Image
Read the Royston Crow e-edition E-edition

Newsletter Sign Up

Royston Crow weekly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy