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Strangers on a Train grips theatre critics

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Nov 20, 2013 | 8:37am EST

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."

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