A bevy of familiar faces from favourite television soaps and drama series star in a major new production of Strangers on a Train.
The masterful and gripping thriller is based on the taught psychological drama by Patricia Highsmith and immortalised by Hitchcock’s Academy Award winning film.
Casting is led by John Middleton (Detective Arthur Gerard) who left Emmerdale earlier this year in a moving storyline, having played the village’s beloved Vicar Ashley Thomas for over 20 years.
He is joined by Christopher Harper (Charles Bruno) who is currently appearing as Nathan Curtis in Coronation Street in an explosive grooming storyline.
Jack Ashton (Guy Haines), the vicar from Call The Midwife is also in the production alongside Hannah Tointon (Anne Faulkner) from Mr Selfridge and Hollyoaks.
The story involves a fateful encounter between two men in the dining carriage of a train crossing America.
Guy Haines is a successful businessman with a nagging doubt about the fidelity of his wife. Charles Bruno is a cold, calculating, charismatic and manipulative chancer with a dark secret.
They get talking and Guy reveals he wants to divorce his wife so that he can marry his mistress Anne. Playboy Charles comes up with a fiendishly inventive idea - he will kill Guy’s wife if Guy agrees to bump off Charles’ father, whom he loathes.
It is, the playboy points out, the perfect double crime - because neither of them has an apparent motive.
But this daring and dangerous plan, developed from a causal conversation between them, sets in motion a chain of events that will change the two men’s lives forever.
Jack Ashton feels that even though the story is set in 1950 it remains resonant for contemporary audiences.
He said: “Human nature hasn’t changed has it? What’s interesting about Patricia Highsmith is how she puts normal people in extreme scenarios and just cranks up the pressure.
“All her characters are stretched to their limits and her stories make you wonder when and where your own breaking point might be.”
Hannah Tointon has a theory as to why such stories continue to enthral audiences.
She said: “It’s that excitement, maybe, that we all crave. As much as we crave things being safe and calm, maybe we also need that spark. Watching it, you’re living vicariously through the play.”
Director Anthony Banks says Strangers on a Train is typical Highsmith. Her stories, he believes, aren’t morality tales.
He said: “They’re more fables about what we’re like as human beings. In this case you’ve got two people who just by chance are in the same train carriage at the same moment and they get talking because they’re bored. The train is a metaphor for life and the strangers are us - they’re humans on the journey of life.”
The play looks at the light and darkness that is in all of us, with Charles in the first scene talking about the metaphor of human beings possessing both white horses and black horses.
“He says that we must choose to steer those horses along the right path, whatever that might be,” said the director. “The worst choice, as Charles points out, is to live a life of grey horses because that would be dull and disrespectful of the gift of life that’s been given to us.”
Strangers on a Train comes to Aylesbury’s Waterside Theatre on Monday March 19 through to Saturday March 24. Tickets from £18. Box office 0844 871 7607 or book online at www.atgtickets.com/aylesbury