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A round-up of reviews for Strangers on a Train starring Laurence Fox at the Gielgud Theatre

Laurence Fox in Strangers on a Train. Photo: Roy Tan

Laurence Fox in Strangers on a Train. Photo: Roy Tan

A new stage adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s acclaimed novel Stranger’s on a Train has opened at the Gielgud Theatre.

Directed by Robert Allan Ackerman, Strangers on a Train is adapted by Craig Warner and stars Laurence Fox, Jack Huston, Christian McKay, Miranda Raison, Imogen Stubbs and MyAnna Buring.

Read reviews below from the critics, including the Daily Telegraph, Times, Daily Mail and Evening Standards.

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REVIEWS ROUND-UP

STAR RATING The Daily Telegraph

“… Robert Allan Ackerman’s immensely stylish production creates a film noir live on stage. There is highly effective use of projections and black and white film to suggest the train where the two central characters first meet as well as a host of other locations, and all the sets and costumes are monochrome. Indeed there are only two highly effective bursts of colour in the whole show. The scene changes are accomplished with superb speed on a revolve, and there is a nerve- jangling score. No composer is credited but it sounds remarkably like the work of Hitchcock collaborator Bernard Herrmann. There are also bursts of Frank Sinatra, most notably I’ve Got You under My Skin, which fits the piece like a glove.”

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STAR RATING The Independent

” Laurence Fox’s disappointingly vapid and un-American-sounding Guy is first discovered reading Plato and is intrigued enough by this total stranger to join him in his private compartment. Jack Huston is excellent as Bruno – the surface manner of the moustachioed, self-amusedly perverse playboy who despises mediocrity concealing less and less the disturbed, whisky-sodden neediness of his infatuation with Guy. His near-incestuously possessive mother (wittily drawn by Imogen Stubbs) is not wrong to suspect that he has found someone new.”

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STAR RATING Daily Mail

“No Christmas ghost story will be quite as chilling (or gripping) as this nightmare. It doesn’t half bear out the value of that old-fashioned English rule: beware talking to strangers on public transport.”

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STAR RATING The Guardian

“Theatre is theatre, film film. Right? Actually not any more as the two mediums increasingly converge. And the bizarre fact about this production, although based on the 1949 Patricia Highsmith novel rather than the subsequent Hitchcock movie, is that it feels, for much of the evening, like a piece of film noir. This is theatre turning into cinema rather than borrowing from it.”

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STAR RATING Financial Times

“Miranda Raison gives strong support as Guy’s wife, and Imogen Stubbs turns up the blowsiness as Bruno’s mother. Even the incidental music sounds like Hitchcock’s favourite composer Bernard Herrmann (there being no programme credit, it may in fact be a Herrmann score, although he did not work on the film of Strangers). Like Bruno’s insinuations, the power and compulsion of the play build slowly until you realise too late that you are altogether ensnared.”

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STAR RATING The Stage

“The West End and Broadway’s over reliance on recycling old stories is, of course, nothing new; but you do, at least, hope that it does so in theatrical terms. That has signally failed to happen, though, with Strangers on a Train, which aspires to be cinematic throughout, with an impressively swirling set constantly in motion to effortlessly change locations. There is also extensive use of supporting projections.”

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STAR RATING The Times

“There was me worrying that this new stage version of Strangers on a Train would turn out to be one of those skilful but pointlessly faithful rehashes of a great film. As it turns out, this ambitious, enjoyable attempt to turn Patricia Highsmith’s novel into a fully fledged stage noir has a few flaws – enough to stop me from offering an outright recommendation – but skewing too close to Alfred Hitchcock’s 1951 film version isn’t one of them”.

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STAR RATING Evening Standard

“There are elaborate projections by Peter Wilms but the cinematic approach leaves one wondering whether it wouldn’t be more absorbing (and a lot cheaper) to stay at home with a DVD of Hitchcock’s film.”

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STAR RATING Westendtheatre.com

“An accomplished cast bring this nail-biting tale of an ordinary man entrapped into a web of lies, deceit and murder to life, but it’s the design by Tim Goodchild, costumes by Dona Granata, lighting by Tim Lutkin, projections by Peter Wilms and sound by Avgoustas Psillas that prove to be the winning elements in this moody, atmospheric, monochrome production.”

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1 Review

  1. Shirley
    12/01/2014 at 8:26 pm — Reply

    Sadly this is one of the worst West End stage experiences I’ve endured in the past 30 years of theatre going & relieved it’s a limited season as the matinee performance on 12th January was very difficult to hear & all performers appeared bored & tired. Fake American accents were annoying & added to the indistinct delivery of lines, luckily our cheap price tickets meant we only wasted our time, rather than both time & money!

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