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David Porter » Reviews » Strangers on a Train

Strangers on a Train

Theatre Royal, Norwich

Review published in the Eastern Daily Press, 15 August 2006

Strangers on a Train

There’s something about trains. Something about a good murder. Something about surprises. This play has the lot.

That old master of suspense Alfted Hitchcock always recognised a good yarn with complex twists and turns and that’s why he made it into a film.

Patricia Highsmith’s 1950’s psychological tale of murder translates well to the stage and has stood the test of time.

A cast including familiar faces – 60’s singer Anita Harris, former Dr Who Colin Baker, Emmerdale’s Leah Bracknell and Alex Fearns, formerly of EastEnders – all gel well and keep the audience on the edge of their seats.

Two strangers meet on a train. One dreams of the perfect murder in which each kills the other’s obstacle to happiness. What could be simpler?

However, no good thriller can be what it seems. The build up of plot and character is slow and sure and dramatic tension rises with the revelations. Highsmith’s first novel was so successful she was described as a modern Dostoevsky because of her treatment of human nature, guilt and morality. And that depth is the secret of this play.

Not just murder, but the weight of it. The unthinkable terror and a central character who, in the end, only wanted to be loved. The set is a clever sequence of sliding mini-rooms with a sense of period.

One jarring note is the American accents, which are hard to sustain. But in the end, they don’t matter. If you can get a ticket, it’s almost worth killing for this highly enjoyable and thoughtful journey.

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