While Jack Manningham is out on the town each evening, his wife, Bella, stays at home alone, believing she’s losing her mind: she can’t explain the disappearance of familiar objects, the mysterious footsteps overhead or the ghostly flickering of the living room gaslights. However, questions about Jack’s behaviour and true identity are aroused following the unexpected arrival of Detective Rough.
Sale & Altrincham Messenger Review by Rick Bowen
TWENTY minutes into ‘Gaslight’and the bloke sat next to me was looking at his watch. Yes, this play is a bit of a slow burner at first – no pun intended – but by the end of act one he was on the edge of his seat like the rest of us. Altrincham Garrick begins 2009 on a sinister note, with Patrick Hamilton’s claustrophobic thriller. Jennifer Wilson is terrific as Bella Manningham, a woman who’s convinced she’s going out of her mind. Of course she isn’t – she’s being cruelly manipulated a husband whose past comes back to haunt him. Director Sonia Dykstra was desperate for the production not to descend into melodrama and it doesn’t, thanks to her slick directing. Hugh Everett exudes menace as Bella’s hubby Jack and there are some memorable exchanges between the two characters. Emotions run high on both sides and by the time the play reaches its conclusion we’re aching for Jack to get his come uppance. Every so often an actor appears on Trafford’s amateur stage who simply makes you sit up and take notice and the Garrick has found a highly accomplished performer in Martin Pritchard. He plays old school copper Inspector Rough, a decent bloke who offers Bella the chance to escape her domestic hell. The Garrick debutant is very, very impressive as Rough and ensures that we really warm to his character. I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of him at this theatre. Stephanie Niland’s Victorian drawing room set enjoyed a deserved round of applause at the start of the evening and, if you go to the Garrick with your patient head on, you’ll really enjoy this post panto production. Even I was on the edge of my seat at times – and I knew what was coming next.
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