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Strangers On A Train, Gielgud Theatre, London, until February 22.

Don’t do it. Just don’t ever do it. Don’t ever speak to anyone on public transport.

Keep that British reserve intact. It’s there for a reason. And if you want to know that reason, dash up to London to catch Strangers On A Train before it completes its run, the perfect illustration of the horror that a seemingly-innocent chat can drag you into. It’s presumably the reason someone somewhere invented the iPod.

The premise is familiar enough from the celebrated Hitchcock movie: two men meet on a train and discover that each has got someone they want to get rid of. The problem for Guy Haines (Laurence Fox) is that Charles Bruno (Jack Huston) actually means it.

For the devilishly seductive, blackly charismatic Bruno, it makes perfect sense. Both will be the winners if they each commit each other’s crime, a crime with which no one could possibly ever think of connecting them.

Bruno rapidly delivers, strangling Haines’ ex-wife who stands in the way of his present romance. So now it’s Haines turn. Either he murders Bruno’s father or he runs the risk of being framed for a murder he didn’t commit.

In a chilling pre- and post-interval switch, scene of crime becomes celebration of marriage; but Bruno can’t leave it there, insinuating his way into the newly-weds’ lives in a way that constantly underlines just how perilously precarious Guy’s life has become.

Mental disintegration, as those Aussie cricketers used to like to call it, is what it’s all about, and Fox and Huston gives us two minds in torment as sordid schemes, sought or otherwise, spiral out of control.

But what makes this production so special is the remarkable staging on apparently London’s most expensive set ever, a revolve which takes you from train to office, from bedroom to drawing room at a rapid lick, everything, clothes, furniture, everything, black and white and shades of grey in tribute to the film.

Ultimately, the film probably satisfies more. There are a few daftnesses of plot that this production can’t quite get away with. But for sheer spectacle it is unbeatable, with excellent support all round, with Imogen Stubbs terrific as Bruno’s languid, drawling Southern Belle mother and Tam Williams, who learnt to love the profession in Chichester, also on fine form.

Phil Hewitt