Share |

Gaslight @ The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

Published by: Yvonne Delahaye on 19th Jan 2017 | View all blogs by Yvonne Delahaye

Click for more details and to book tickets for Gaslight at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

Written by Patrick Hamilton in 1938, Gaslight is one of the greatest thrillers of all time.  Frequently performed by amateur groups, the play can sometimes be turned into melodrama.  Set in fog-bound London in 1880 in the upper middle class home of Jack Manningham and his wife Bella, the scene opens late afternoon being the time ‘before the feeble dawn of gaslight and tea’ as Hamilton wrote in his notes.

Bella has recently moved to a new house with her husband Jack, but she has started to misplace objects and is worried that she may be losing her mind as her mother did.  Jack leaves her alone every evening as he visits the town, but mysterious footsteps are heard overhead and a ghostly flickering of the living room gaslight makes Bella believe she may be going mad. Does the terror exist in her imagination or are dark secrets living in her home? The surprise arrival of retired Detective Rough leads to a shocking discovery that will shake her respectable Victorian marriage to its core.

The play was turned into a British film in 1940 with Anton Walbrook, Diana Wynyard and Frank Pettingel.  Encouraged by the success of the play and film, MGM bought the remake rights, but with a clause insisting that all existing prints of Dickinson's version be destroyed, even to the point of trying to destroy the negative, so that it would not compete with their more highly publicised 1944 remake  starring Charles Boyer, Ingrid Bergman and Joseph Cotten. It was also released under the title Angel Street.

Having seen the films and the play on stage many years ago, I was curious to see how it would be staged in this new touring production.  This suspensful thriller can easily be turned into a Victorian melodrama, but this production keeps it truthful with controlling husband Jack playing on Bella’s vulnerabilities and insecurities.

Acclaimed TV and stage actress Kara Tointon has a natural radiance and warmth that makes her very watchable in everything she does and as Bella begins to lose her grip on reality, Kara gives a compelling , multi-layered performance. BBC 1 ‘s ‘Merlin’ star  Rupert Young joins Kara as husband Jack Manningham and in the second act we see more of his sinister, menacing traits. Bringing some light comedy to this darkly twisted thriller, is multi-talented Keith Allen as Detective Rough.

The production has an authenticity that draws you in and the first half raced along.  Even though we’re kept in the picture throughout, the play still has the ability to surprise. It also provides an interesting observation of human frailties and the dynamics of an abusive relationship.

The play tours to Woking, York, Brighton and Richmond and tickets can be booked at:

http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/gaslight

 

Reviewed by:

Yvonne Delahaye

16.1.17

 

@yvonnedelahaye

Comments

0 Comments

     
Please login or sign up to post on this network.
Click here to sign up now.