Theatre Royal Brighton | 6 – 11 February 2017
Gaslight | Review
According to Wikipedia Gaslighting is a form of manipulation that seeks to sow seeds of doubt, hoping to make targets question their own memory, perception, and sanity.
For that reason, the term has been used in politics quite a lot over the last few weeks but interestingly Wikipedia also goes on to tell us that the term was originally coined from a play of the same name written by Patrick Hamilton which was also made into a film in 1944 for which Ingrid Bergman won academy award.
Hamilton’s original play written in 1938 is currently on tour and plays this week at the Theatre Royal Brighton, starring Kara Tointon, Rupert Young and Keith Allen.
Set in Victorian London, Gaslight is a tale of corrupted innocence and misplaced trust. It tells the story of Bella who is tormented by the fear that she is going insane. Bella forgets things that have been said, she loses personal items, imagines noises and is disturbed by the flickering of the gaslights when no-one is home. When a retired detective Rough unexpectedly visits, he tries to befriend Bella, suggesting to her that maybe she isn’t to blame and is not going mad but is under the harmful influence of her husband, Jack Manningham.
In this production Kara Tointon beautifully portrays Bella Manningham, giving a convincing performance of the desperate need to please her husband coupled with the confusion and terror of someone going out of her mind. Jack her calculating husband, is played by Rupert Young who gives a terrifying portrayal of a destructive manipulator who will stop at nothing to get what he wants.
Keith Allen as retired detective Rough is the calming influence of the show adding a little humour and friendliness to the proceedings which it greatly needed to break the tension.
Supporting characters, Elizabeth the vigilant housekeeper (Helen Anderson) who wants to do the right thing and the feisty irrepressible maid Nancy (Charlotte Blackledge) who does everything she can to come between Bella and Jack also play their parts exceedingly well.
Gaslight is set in the dreary dark Victorian living room of the Mannigham’s house David Woodhead’s set and Howard Hudson’s lighting emulating Bella’s opressed lonely life. Anthony Banks’ expert direction means the play is full of suspense and delivers an acute chill to the spine.
This production is a worthy adaptation and exciting to watch, it is packed full of suspense and intrigue so even though from the beginning you think you know what is happening, you are never quite certain what the definite outcome will be.
Did Patrick Hamilton realise when he used the flickering of the gaslights as part of his plot that he would coin a phrase and make Gaslight one of the greatest thrillers of all time? Probably not but you’d like to think that he would be rather pleased.
Reviewer: Sammi O’Neill
Gaslight continues to play at the Theatre Royal Brighton until the 11th February