A stage adaptation of Strangers On A Train has won praise from British theatre critics after it was unveiled this week (beg18Nov13). The play, starring Jack Huston, Laurence Fox and Imogen Stubbs, is based on the novel of the same name by Patricia Highsmith, which was turned into a 1951 thriller movie by Alfred Hitchcock, about two men who meet on a train and agree to commit murder on each other's behalf.
Strangers on a Train opened at London's the Gielgud Theatre on Tuesday night (19Nov13) and won high praise for its innovative rotating stage set, as well as the actors' performances.
Quentin Letts, of Britain's Daily Mail newspaper, writes, "This flesh-creeper, this toe-curler, this spine-snapper of a stalker tale has some of the fastest, cleverest set changes ever attempted. Scenery is struck and replaced within a brief whisk of the revolve. One moment we are in an office, the next it has been turned into a fairground carousel... Technical brilliance."
He adds, "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."
The Guardian's Michael Billington praised the play for cleverly blending the mediums of theatre and film, writing, "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... To clinch matters, the sound design deliberately echoes the nerve-jangling scores that Bernard Herrmann wrote for Hitchcock."
Henry Hitchings, of the London Evening Standard, also points out Hitchcock's influence on the production, adding, "Strangers On A Train is as brilliant as any of Alfred Hitchcock's movies, a thriller that is unsettling and at the same time seductive... There is no doubting Hitchcock's influence."
British actress Imogen Stubbs has accused the stars of The Great Gatsby of ruining the dialogue of Baz Luhrmann's adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's literary classic by mumbling and "garbling" their lines. The Jack & Sarah star insists she struggled to follow conversations between the characters played by Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire and Carey Mulligan due to the awkward way in which they were reciting the script.
She tells Britain's The Observer, "You're just longing for it to stop... I thought the actors looked embarrassed."
And Stubbs insists Hollywood's mumbling doesn't end with The Great Gatsby: "It was so drummed into us at drama school that 'it's unforgivable not to be clear and heard'... The naturalistic, mumbling acting style tends to go with people who are playing something closer to their obvious self... People who are playing against their obvious self tend to embrace the acting a bit more.
"Acting is playing. You are pretending. Simon Russell Beale or Alex Jennings are theatrical actors who are naturalistic. You can hear them and people love them."
Glee writer/co-producer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa is working on a script for a third movie adaptation of the colourful stageshow, according to The Hollywood Reporter - and Gordon-Levitt is reportedly close to signing on as lovestruck hero Seymour.
The film has a history of big-name links - Jack Nicholson appeared in the 1960 version and Steve Martin portrayed a manic dentist in Moranis' 1986 movie, which also featured John Candy, James Belushi and soul legend Levi Stubbs as the voice of man-eating plant Audrey II.
The Jack & Sarah star surprised a group at Lambeth College in the U.K. capital and shared her acting advice with the youngsters, who are part of the prestigious Donmar Warehouse's play-writing project for teenagers.
Stubbs tells Britain's Evening Standard, "Their plays weren't just deep but cool too, and very original. It was very brave of them.
"If they were nurtured, they could go far. I hope they do go on and write."