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Train of dark thoughts leads to fatal destination

Strangers on a train, Talisman Theatre, Kenilworth, until 8 June

The play opens with the most memorable scene, two men on a train, men who have never met before, ‘strangers’ and yet they embark on a conversation that leads to a fearful outcome.

Charles Bruno wanders down the carriage with a drink in his hand and seats himself in front of the unwitting Guy Haines.

He chats away offering a drink to Guy, who simply wants to read a book. Soon he has engaged Guy and as the conversation progresses, he suggests that every one of us (as Plato says) is born with a black horse inside us; we are all capable of murder given the right circumstances.

He explains that unloved by his father he is deprived of money and freedom and it is this hatred that leads him to suggest a way in which a perfect murder can be accomplished. If you kill someone with whom you have no link, how will you ever be caught!

It is only when his father dies that he will live. Guy Haines raises his glass unaware that this is no quirky and amusing conversation but something that will change the rest of his life.

Charles Bruno (Phil Spencer) gives an excellent and convincing performance as a complex, excitable, childlike, manipulative character.

Guy Haines is masterly conveyed by James Proctor as a very different person. Initially he appears calm and determined but as the play progresses his personality reveals that he himself is becoming a victim of Charles plan.

The interplay between the two main characters is complex and there is an inference that Charles is in love with Guy.

Anne Faulkner (Katie-Anne Ray) is delightful in her role as a truly kind and loving young woman who becomes Guy’s second wife. (Dee Francis). Charles’s mother Elsie subtly develops her role as his devoted parent. Arthur Gerrard (Paul Sully) is also clever in his portrayal of the man who manages to discover exactly what the two men have done. Other roles played by Frank Myers (Matt Baxter) Laurie Weston (Robert Treacher) help lighten certain aspects of the play.

Based on a book written by Patricia Highsmith in 1950 the play well directed by Gill Bowser is both complex and intriguing. It takes place over 17 short scenes which carry the audience through a highly complex plot

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