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Call the Midwife star Jack Ashton is on board for Strangers on a Train at Cambridge Arts Theatre

Strangers on a Train. Picture: Helen Maybanks
Strangers on a Train. Picture: Helen Maybanks

New production also stars Christopher Harper (Coronation Street), John Middleton (Emmerdale) and Hannah Tointon (Mr Selfridge)

Strangers on a Train. Picture: Helen Maybanks
Strangers on a Train. Picture: Helen Maybanks

Jack Ashton is familiar to TV viewers for his role in Call the Midwife, which he has starred in as vicar Tom Hereward, since 2014.

He is in a relationship with co-star Helen George, who has portrayed nurse Trixie Franklin since the programme began in 2012.

The couple welcomed their first child – a daughter they named Wren – into the world in September.

Ashton is starring as Guy Haines in Strangers on a Train, which begins its stint at the Cambridge Arts Theatre on Monday (February 26).

Strangers on a Train. Picture: Helen Maybanks
Strangers on a Train. Picture: Helen Maybanks

This new production, based on the 1950 novel by Patricia Highsmith and made universally famous a year later by the Oscar-winning Alfred Hitchcock film, also stars Christopher Harper (Coronation Street), John Middleton (Emmerdale) and Hannah Tointon (Mr Selfridge).

A fateful encounter takes place between two men in the dining carriage of a train crossing America. Guy is a successful businessman with a nagging jealousy, while Charles (Harper) is a cold, calculating chancer with a dark secret.

A daring and dangerous plan evolves from this casual conversation, setting in motion a chain of events that will change the two men’s lives forever.

Ashton said: “I’ve known Anthony Banks, the director, for a few years and he sent me the script quite a long time ago. I read it and, as I’m sure you can appreciate, we actors read a lot of things – and it’s not often that you read a script and go: ‘This is brilliant’.

“That’s what happened when I read Strangers on a Train for the first time, and I emailed him straight back and said I would love to be in it.”

Ashton, who will be making his acting debut in Cambridge, has nothing but praise for his co-stars in the play.

“The cast are amazing – we get on really well,” he noted. “Chris and I get on really well, which helps because in the play we are at loggerheads the entire time.”

The troubled character of Guy Haines is a world away from the more grounded Tom Hereward.

Ashton said: “That’s all we want to do as actors, just do something completely different to the last thing we did – and he certainly is very different.

“He’s a lot more expressive than Tom Hereward and Tom is much more reserved.

“I think working in an American accent in general helps to get your voice out. If you look at 1950s England and 1950s America, they’re vastly different. American men had a real confidence about them, a verve and vibe, and it’s fun to play.”

On Call the Midwife, Ashton said: “It’s been such a joy to do. I started off being offered two episodes and five years later I’m talking to you about it, so it has been a wonderful journey.”

He added: “Call the Midwife has been more than just a job to me. I’ve got some really good friends from it and obviously a relationship and a daughter, so it will always be something I look back on with the fondest of memories.”

The amiable actor believes the Cambridge audience will love Strangers on a Train. He promised: “You’ll get to see some fantastic performances. I think the acting is really up there and the set is wonderful.

“From the minute the play starts to the minute it finishes, I don’t think there’s any let-up in energy and angst.”

Strangers on a Train will be on at the Cambridge Arts Theatre from Monday, February 26 to Saturday, March 3. The show starts at 7.45pm every day, with matinees on the Thursday and the Saturday. Tickets £19-£39. All ticket prices include a £3 per-ticket booking fee, from cambridgeartstheatre.com.


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