REVIEW: Strangers on a Train @ The Opera House, Manchester
It was always going to be a big ask to bring Patricia Highsmith’s tense psychological thriller to the stage and this production doesn’t quite pull it off in the way that Alfred Hitchcock famously did on the silver screen.
There is much of merit in the show, with some effective mood lighting and innovative use of sets, but the pace and direction lets it down and it is certainly a play of two halves.
The story is based around the consequences of a chance meeting on a train between Guy Haines, an ambitious architect and alcoholic wreck, Charles Bruno. In a drink-fuelled stupour, Bruno comes up with a hypothetical plan, where he would to murder the wife Haines is about to divorce in exchange for Haines killing Bruno’s father. When Bruno unexpectedly keeps to his side of the bargain, pressure is applied for Haines to deliver, thus providing the main premise for the drama.
But prior to the interval, the dramatic action is laboured, slow and frankly quite boring. When you don’t care that much about the fate of the characters, you know something is wrong. However, maybe some-one had a work in the break, because the pace picked up in the second half culminating in the dramatic conclusion at the end.
Chris Harper as Bruno and Jack Ashton as Haines deliver reasonable performances although there are one or two instances of the audience perhaps laughing when they shouldn’t as Bruno becomes increasingly psychotic.
Overall, not a terrible night at the theatre, but one that is distinctly underwhelming.
Runs till February 10