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Train kept well on rails

PUBLISHED: 18:18 11 June 2008 | UPDATED: 13:09 11 August 2010

Hannah Waterman and Charles Bruno

Hannah Waterman and Charles Bruno

It is just a pity that Bruce James production of Strangers on a Train in the stage version of Patricia Highsmith s 1950s novel by Craig Warner had just a short three days run at Westcliff s Palace Theatre before going out on a short tour. It was absolute

It is just a pity that Bruce James' production of Strangers on a Train in the stage version of Patricia Highsmith's 1950s novel by Craig Warner had just a short three days run at Westcliff's Palace Theatre before going out on a short tour.

It was absolutely stunning and had a good audience on its opening night on the edge of their seats from start to finish.

The subject previously of Hitchcock's famous 1950s film classic the novel is given a very modern slant in this 1996 stage version with one composite set which works brilliantly and takes the story to several different 1950s American locations as the tale of two strangers meeting on a long distance train with the talkative and persuasive Charles Bruno citing the possibility of two men each having problems in their lives committing murder.

He suggests that he murder Guy Haines' wife, who Guy is having difficulty divorcing, while Guy kills Bruno's father, who is standing in the way of a huge inheritance.

Though Guy dismisses the whole scenario as just imaginative fiction he soon finds the whole thing is becoming grim reality when his wife is murdered and Bruno begins hounding him to complete what he considers the other part of the deal.

The dialogue is beautifully written as the action relentlessly proceeds involving Guy's lover and her father and Bruno's doting mother in so many twists that I, and I am sure the whole audience, were hanging on the next move in this superbly plotted show.

What is more unlike some of the previous Bruce James productions at the Palace this year the whole thing is superbly acted with two great tour de force performances by Nick Barclay as Bruno and Ben Roddy as Guy.

This is acting of the highest standard backed up by Bruce James' excellently staged and timed production, which beautifully captures the 1950s America atmosphere.

There are also very good performances from Hannah Waterman as Guy's future second wife, who can always tell when Guy is lying, and Adam Patman as a private detective friend of Bruno's dead father, while Jasmine Darke is a rather young mother of Bruno.

Bruce James shows just how good his team can be in this production.


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