Saturday, November 08, 2008

Gaslight at the Greville

GASLIGHT Greville Theatre Club That great Victorian thriller, Patrick Hamilton's Gaslight, is only just 70 years old. Still popular, despite a preposterous plot-line, it depends for its success on the actors' ability to breathe life into the stiff dialogue. In the Greville's elegant production, the most successful resuscitator was Steve Braham's Rough – the ex-copper who arrives like a Deus Ex Machina to save Mrs Manningham from her fate. We have to be able to share her awful suspicion that his visit was just a delusion, another symptom of her mental decline. Bella was Diana Bradley, a submissive wife, easy prey for her manipulative husband. This was a performance of great presence, and beautifully spoken. The final confrontation with Jack was truly thrilling. Cold-eyed, domineering, the evil barely concealed beneath the surface, John Richardson's Manningham was a masterly portrayal of the criminal mind, toying mercilessly with his victim. Physically convincing, too, with more than a hint of Eric Porter. Below stairs were the loyal Elizabeth [Lynda Shelverton] and Carol Parradine's pert slut Nancy. The set was impressive, well furnished, and the sound cues for the menacing hiss of the lamps were very effective. Gaslight was directed by Karen Ashton and Jan Ford, and was preceded by a convivial meal – chilli, jacket, salad and those legendary Greville puddings, including a glorious trifle.

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