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Montgomery Playhouse Strangers on a Train

By • May 18th, 2011 • Category: Reviews
Strangers on a Train
Montgomery Playhouse
Asbury Methodist Village Rosborough Center, Gaithersburg, MD
Through May 28th
2:25 with one intermission
$16/$14 Seniors and Students
Reviewed May 14th, 2011

Strangers on a Train was originally a novel by Patricia Highsmith. It was adapted as a film in 1951 by Alfred Hitchcock, and the stage version was adapted by Craig Warner in 1995. Guy Haines and Charles Bruno meet by chance on a train and share about the people in their lives they could do without. When Bruno has an idea about planning the perfect murders, and then goes on to commit one, Haines finds himself in the bad position between a rock and a hard decision.

This engaging play worked well despite its flaws that any fan of modern legal thrillers will see. Law and Order (and most every other cop show since the 80’s) has ingrained in most people that you can’t plan a perfect murder. Look at all the different things in modern life that help pin a murderer down. Fingerprints. Credit card receipts. Phone bills. ID checks when boarding transportation. Google. And the list goes on. Strangers on a Train works quite well if you are able to dispense with all of these types of evidence.

David Dieudonne as successful architect Guy Haines was impressive as he saw his life tumble down around him. Steve Quillin as insane, creepy murderer Charles Bruno was powerful as he slowly unraveled after the murders were committed. Dieudonne made us feel sympathy towards Haines, although again years of legal thrillers have conditioned us to simply say “Why didn’t he go to the police?” Quillin excelled at appearing innocent to Haines’ family and friends, while simultaneously allowing us to feel the revulsion of what he was capable of. Quillin appeared at times to just barely keeping his impulses under control.

George Tamerlani as detective Arthur Gerard was menacing as he investigated the muder of Bruno’s father. Bruno’s mother Elsie was played by Kathy Fallow as an innocent, unable to see the evil in her son. Renetta Morelli played Guy’s girlfriend and later, new wife, Anne Faulkner, as unaware yet strongly gaining strength throughout the show. The roles of the last two characters, Frank Myers (Dan Beck) and Robert Treacher (Jonathan Moon) didn’t add a lot to the show, other than to give a few places where an observant person would find reason to suspect that Guy and Bruno weren’t as innocent as they appeared.

David Jones’ set was ingenious. One of the major challenges of Strangers on a Train is the myriad of sets. There were many scene changes, most of which were accomplished quickly, although a couple seemed to drag on. Some scenes were very short, and others were quite long. The various length of the scenes kept the audience off-kilter, similar to how Guy Haines must have been feeling as he tried to deal with his close friend Charles Bruno. The opening scene takes place on a train, and Dieudonne and Quillin were effective as they chatted at the table with a moving scenery projection visible through the window. It seemed an odd choice that the set for the final scene did not feature the train from the opening scene. Later projections helped place the scene. Matthew Datcher’s sound effects were nicely done, although a couple times they were slightly too loud.

Cast

  • Charles Bruno: Steve Quilin
  • Guy Haines: David Dieudonne
  • Elise Bruno: Kathy Fallow
  • Anne Faulkner: Renetta Morelli
  • Frank Myers: Dan Beck
  • Robert Treacher: Jonathan Moon
  • Arthur Gerard: George Tamerlani

Crew

  • Producer: Steve Quilin
  • Director: Bruce Hirsch
  • Assistant Director: Jeremy Hollis
  • Stage Manager: Debbie Shelley
  • Set Design: David Jones
  • Light Design: Steve Deming
  • Sound Design: Matthew Datcher
  • Floor Manager: Stacey Fearheily
  • Costumer: McKenna Kelly
  • Master Carpenter: David Jones
  • Set Construction: Nancy Davis, Netta Morelli, Steve Quillin, Joy Wine
  • Lighting Operator: Hillary Potter
  • Sound Operator: Matt Datcher
  • Properties: Sonya Okin
  • Set Dressing: Sonya Okin
  • Stage Crew: Denise Abdulkader, Steve Deming, Laura Gordon, Marc Rehr, Abhi Shrestha
  • Photography: David Jones
  • Program Art: John Shine

Disclaimer: Montgomery Playhouse provided one complimentary media ticket to ShowBizRadio for this review.

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has performed in local productions, but prefers to be behind the scenes. Mike earned a Career Studies Certificate in Theater from Northern Virginia Community College. Mike is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association and the Online News Association.

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