Talking Theatre: Hannah Tointon Discusses Thriller, Strangers On A Train
The thriller, Strangers on a Train, makes a final whistle-stop of its three-month UK tour at Cardiff’s New Theatre from March 27. The production is based on the taught psychological drama by the celebrated writer Patricia Highsmith, immortalised by Hitchcock’s Academy Award-winning film.
A fateful encounter takes place between two men in the dining carriage of a train crossing America. Guy Haines is the successful businessman with a nagging doubt about the fidelity of his wife. Charles Bruno is a cold, calculating chancer with a dark secret. A daring and dangerous plan develops from this casual conversation, setting in motion a chain of events that will change the two men’s lives forever.
The new stage adaptation is directed by Anthony Banks and the team behind the critically acclaimed tour of Patrick Hamilton’s Gaslight which came to the New in 2017 and features an all-star cast featuring John Middleton (Detective Arthur Gerard), Christopher Harper (Charles Bruno), Guy Haines (Jack Ashton) and Hannah Tointon, as Guy’s fiancé, Anne Faulkner.
On the eve of the play's arrival in Cardiff, Hannah, famed for her roles in Mr Selfridge (alongside her sister, Kara), The Inbetweeners and Hollyoaks, chats to Andy Howells about the play.
You've been touring with Strangers on a Train for three months. Whats it been like?
Its going really well. we're loving it and having such a fun time. We're coming to the end of it now and next week is our last week but its been so much fun and we've really loved it.
You're well known for your TV work, have you done much theatre before?
I did one play before I did this and that was when I was a bit younger. To be honest, this has been a different direction for me and I've loved it, I've learned so much. That's the thing with theatre you do it for so long, you really get to know the character. With television you go in and its so quick its done but theatre has been a real learning curve for me,
Strangers On a Train was famously immortalised as an Alfred Hitchcock film, have you ever seen it?
I've only seen snippets of it. Anthony Banks, our Director, said not to watch it, because its actually based on the Patricia Highsmith novel and he wanted us to go more with that than the film. I will watch it, once we've finished, I didn't want any preconceptions of how its done on the film. I would love to watch it now, it'll be my thing to do after!
Both yourself and your sister Kara are actresses. Do you come from an acting family?
Its funny, we're not from an acting background at all, which we're amused about but we've learned along the way and we've always had each other. it was a hobby when we were younger, I don't think its something that we thought we'd actually do but we sort of fell into it. (Laughs)
You've had a successful TV career with roles in both Hollyoaks and The InBetweeners, what was that like?
Hollyoaks was so long ago, because I was about 19. With soaps, you learn so much, because its so different to theatre, its quick. You have to learn your lines the night before and while having so many things to do the next day. In that way, I think anything is so much easier after you've done that, so I'm really pleased I had that experience when I was 19.
For me, The InBetweeners was the best job, It was so much fun and with such a lovely funny bunch of people. I just loved every minute of it and been around such comic geniuses,Its on all the time and still makes me laugh, it just doesn't seem to get old.
Can you tell us about your role in Strangers On a Train?
I play Anne Faulkner and she is the second wife of Guy Haines, They have a lovely relationship and shes completely in the dark about whats going on.She knows somethings not quite right, but not exactly what it is. Its really nice to play a part different from what I'm used to and she really does go on a journey.shes completely different at the end from where she is at the beginning.
There's a lot of different levels of emotion that she goes through, The play is set over several months, You have to remain focused and remember where you are within the story.
Has the role been demanding?
Its an exhausting and quite emotional role. We've found the play grows from been on tour and in different theatres. Its new every week, its really weird, it changes, its not got stale, its grown as the tour has gone on.
Is the play still set in the 1950s?
Its set in the same period. I have a lovely wardrobe, I'm really chuffed, I'm all sort of period with lovely hair, I look the complete opposite of what I look like off-stage!
How has the audience responded?
Its funny, there's one scene we get where the audience react quite a lot, so that's fun to play. With theatre, when your rehearsing, you've got no idea whats going to work. Then in the first week of previews you find what the audience like and if they find stuff funny, that instant reaction is something you don't really get with television.
The tour ends in Cardiff, have you visited Cardiff before?
I've filmed in Cardiff before and am actually looking forward to coming back, I hear theres a boxing match there on the Saturday! (Joshua v Parker at the Principality Stadium).
Strangers on a Train plays at Cardiff’s New Theatre from 27 – 31 March 2018.