Craig Warner’s version of Patricia Highsmith’s first novel (a psychological thriller notably filmed by Alfred Hitchcock in 1951) recounts the fatal consequences of an apparently chance encounter between unhappily married architect Guy Haines, whose unfaithful wife is standing in the way of his new relationship, and psychotic socialite Bruno who wants to be rid of the purse-controlling father he detests. And what better way to dispose of them both than to swap murders? – a suggestion a bland Laurence Fox’s fundamentally decent Guy instantly dismisses  – until Bruno takes matters into his own hands and expects Guy to follow suit.

Though moderately entertaining, the production (with its numerous short scenes) only intermittently engages and doesn’t always convince. As played by the usually excellent Imogen Stubbs, Bruno’s mother Elsie (with whom he shares an unhealthily intimate relationship) could have stepped straight out of a Tennessee Williams play. And Jack Huston’s ingratiating, amoral Bruno even looks a bit like the famous homosexual playwright as he stalks his way into Guy’s new life.

At least Miranda Raison brings a touch of sympathetic normality to the role of Ann (the would-be Mrs Haines mark two) and the incendiary intensity of the final moments is completely unexpected in an unremarkable evening.

WHERE: Gielgud Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, W1D 6AR
TUBE: Piccadilly Circus
TICKETS: £17.50 – £57.50

Until February 22, 2014