One of the stand-out memories of my teenage theatre-going was a trip to Chester’s Gateway Theatre to see a production of a play called Trap for a Lonely Man, involving a chap whose wife disappears and is replaced by a stranger. It proved to be an excellent thriller, with a classic final twist. Fast forward to the present, and I’ve tried to find out more about the play. It seems that it is something of a staple of provincial theatre even now, and it was written by a Frenchman, Robert Thomas.
A little more digging revealed that the play has been adapted into no fewer than four films. I haven’t seen any of them, although I’ve put in an order for Chase a Crooked Shadow, a version starring the young Richard Todd, who died recently. It also seems that Hitchcock planned to film the play, and I can well imagine that the premise would appeal to him, although he was evidently beaten to it.
The story-line is strongly reminiscent of the work of those French masters Boileau and Narcejac. I’ve mentioned before that group of writers, including Montheilhet, Arley and Valmain, who followed in the footsteps of Boileau and Narcejac, and this notable play suggests that Robert Thomas should be added to the list.
But who was Robert Thomas and what else did he write? So far, I’ve not come up with any detailed information about him, but surely he wasn’t just a one-hit wonder?