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John in Rope

7 July 1993 to 7 August 1993
Role: Wyndham Brandon

In this Chichester Theatre production of Patrick Hamilton's 1929 thriller, John was joined by Alexis Denisof as Charles Granillo and Anthony Head (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) as headmaster, Rupert Cadell.

Two Oxford undergraduates embark on committing the perfect murder. They kill a class-mate, hiding his body in a trunk around which they proceed to throw a party. The evening is a game of cat and mouse as it is gradually revealed that the guests are the victim's family and friends.

The play has clear homoerotic overtones which, although played down in Hitchcock's 1948 film version, still caused the film to be banned in several US cities.

Press reviews

Perfect Passions
Evening Standard, 12 April 1993
By Michael Arditti


There are two prerequisites if you wish to commit the perfect murder: take the pledge and don't take a partner - both of which Brandon and Granillo, the anti-heroes of Hamilton's Rope, disregard.

This marvellous play succeeds on three levels. On the first, the taut plot maintains the tensions of a classic thriller. On the second, the social comedy is placed in the hands of two bright young things straight out of Noel Coward. On the third, the moral dimension is explored through the character of a disillusioned poet, Rupert Cadell.

Rupert rightly describes the murder as a sin, but one of the strengths of Keith Baxter's near-faultless production is that it allows us to hate the sin while loving the sinners. This is largely the result of two magnificent performances from John Barrowman and Alexis Denisof; the former belying any sentimental belief that physical beauty denotes beauty within.

Knot for the faint-hearted
The Times, 13 July 1993
By Jeremy Kingston


The opening tableau of naked youth declares boldly what Hamilton left to be deducted by those who, in 1929, knew enough to do so. I would have preferred Baxter to leave the opening as the author wrote it because the play's focus is not sex but crime: a murder done to convince two rich young men that they are above the constraints of ordinary morality and clever enough to get away with it. Brandon (John Barrowman) is hard, dominant and seemingly in control of his feelings, Granillo (Alexis Denisof) malleable and jittery. These two actors persuasively suggest the panic being held back behind the smiling or sour mask of bravado.

John with Anthony Head and Alexis Denisoff in Rope