Saturday, 2 March 2019

Gaslight, Carver Theatre Marple 1/3/19

It seems somewhat apt that, in a week when the subject of coercive control is very much in the news, I attend this thriller written in 1938 by Patrick Hamilton, where a manipulative and abusive husband undertakes to convince his wife she is losing her mind so that he can execute his own criminal aims.

Marple Carver Theatre have chosen this interesting play as their latest offering. They may be amateur theatre but their production values are always high. A sumptuous set, gorgeous costumes and clever lighting create the perfect backdrop for the action to unfold.

The cast do well with a very complex script, this play isn’t necessarily about the action, with all activity taking place in the Mannigham's front room, its more the interactions between the key protagonists. The script is complex and it must have been quite some challenge to learn it. The plot focuses on two key partnerships - Jack Manningham's unsettling exchanges with his nervous wife Bella, as he twists the truth and manufactures events in an effort to convince his fragile wife that she is mentally ill, and her gradual awakening to the true facts when she is visited by retired policeman Inspector Rough, a man determined to see long awaited justice served.

Julia Taylor as Bella plays the vulnerable wife well, on stage for almost the full length of the play and having to convey a range of mental states. Peter Gaskell as the determined and mysterious ex cop provides welcome comic relief from the sinister goings on. Harry Lee as husband Jack has a measured approach oozing with sinister undertones. Mariae Tucker and Debbie Bruce give good support as the household staff, one supporting Bella in her hour of need, and one undermining her at every turn .

It’s been a while since I took in a play at the Carver, but I really should visit more often. If you are in the area you should check it out. A very welcoming space, good value for money, with high standards and a varied mix of offerings. The next play here is Harvey, one of my favourite films, running from 10th to 18th May. Tickets can be purchased online at this link, or in person or by phone at Hollins Building Supplies in Marple (which is a brilliant independent hardware shop with knowledgeable staff and a great range of stock) 

Well done to the whole Carver team for Gaslight for an excellent show. I didn't know the story before but this did make me want to seek out the 1944 film adaptation. 

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