Wednesday, August 17, 2011


The Little Theatre, Sheringham

Patrick Hamilton died in Sheringham, an unhappy alcoholic. His most recent success was his novel Twenty Thousand Streets Under The Sky, in a 2005 adaptation for the BBC.
But he is best remembered for his enduringly popular psychological thriller Gas Light, and it was this piece that was revived this season at Sheringham, one of the few seaside reps to have survived into the 21st century.
Illona Linthwaite's production was impressively atmospheric, greatly helped by Matt Nunn's oppressive Victorian parlour.
William Hartley was a chillingly menacing Massingham, the killer with a heart of stone who tries to humiliate his wife into the mad-house. I admired his quiet stillness, his suppressed fury as he finds his private desk ransacked, and his caged-animal pacing as the spirit of justice finally corners him. I was less convinced by his sotto voce Gus Elen song as he returned from a night on the town.
The mysterious Inspector Rough - “is this a dream, too ?” - was played as a cheery Dickensian figure in a saucy shirt by Andrew Williams.
The fragile, frightened Bella was Keely Beresford – tense, tearful and finally, hysterically triumphant. Her fear of madness was palpable, and I was impressed by the incredulous joy with which she read the long-lost letter from her cousin.
The “dark household” was completed by the loyal Elizabeth [Madeleine Brolly] and the flighty, spiteful Nancy [Sarah Langton].
The Sheringham season continues with Perfect Wedding, Absent Friends and The Decorator.

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