Theatre right now is chock full of adaptations, be they from books or films, and the precision that borders on staginess of Hitchcock's most successful offerings seem rich pickings for translation to the stage. However, after the huge success of the hilarious, innovative and sophisticated adaptation of The 39 Steps (I nearly fell off my seat laughing) Strangers on a Train is an unfortunate misfire. Hitchcock's 1951 thriller might not be his finest hour but it is a tight, well-paced endeavour with enough tension to recommend itself and justify its 104 minute running time. Unfortunately, the team behind this flabby and vastly overlong interpretation chose to overlook the film's strengths and transform it into a 3 hour pseudopsychological mess. Delusional sociopath Bruno Anthony, played with perfectly queasy affableness by Robert Walker in the movie, is transformed into irritatingly over-the-top drunk Carl Bruno (Jack Huston), whose latent homosexuality and belaboured mother-fixation are pinned as his motives for setting up architect Guy Haines (Laurence Fox) in the criss-cross scenario. The crucial scene on the train is frustratingly short, especially in comparison to the painful and unnecessary total running time, and we spend far too much time watching both men wrestle with their own rather irritating demons (drink, depression, etc) while the dramatic tension just seeps away. Changing Haines from a tennis star to an architect was a wasteful decision, throwing away the dramatic build-up of a tennis match for long and frustrating scenes in which he wrestles with his skill, ambition and conscience - hardly the stuff of a sparky thriller. The beautiful and elaborate period set was really a waste on such a weak and uninspiring production, where attempts at modernisation and theatricality have resulted in hamminess and boredom. This is a film that could, if handled properly, have made an excellent transition from screen to stage - sadly this is not it.
Time Out says
Posted: Wed Jun 20 2012
The Gielgud is owned by the Delfont Mackintosh group and seats just under 900 people on three levels. It was designed by WGR Sprague in a neo-classical style and opened in 1907 as the Hicks Theatre, named after actor-manager and playwright Seymour Hicks. American impresario Charles Frohman took over in 1909 and renamed it the Globe, reopening the theatre with a drama by Winston Churchill’s mother, Lady Randolph Churchill. Taken over by Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Group in the 1980s and refurbished in 1987, it played host to several Ayckbourn premieres and acquired a famous theatre cat, Beerbohm, who on his death in 1995 received a front-page obituary in ‘The Stage’. To avoid confusion with Sam Wanamaker’s Bankside Shakespeare’s Globe project, the theatre’s name was changed in honour of the great thespian knight in 1992, and in 2006 Cameron Mackintosh’s Delfont Mackintosh Group took ownership and embarked on a further round of refurbishments to both the facade and the interior, which were completed in 2008.
What's on at Gielgud Theatre
West End, Comedy, Drama
- Rating: 3/5
If you’ve somehow stumbled into this revival of Noël Coward’s daft supernatural comedy ‘Blithe Spirit’ without prior knowledge of 88-year-old star Angela Lansbury, you won’t find it hard to work out which one she is. In terrifyingly un-British scenes,...
West End, Drama
- Rating: 4/5
- Critics' choice
Following the partial collapse of the Apollo's ceiling on December 19, all performances at the Apollo have been cancelled. The show opens again at the Gielgud Theatre on June 24. The success of the National Theatre’s adaptation of Mark Haddon’s best-selling...