Saturday, August 29, 2009

review - Gaslight

written by Patrick Hamilton
directed by Charlie Mount
Theatre West
through September 27
When Gaslight premiered on Broadway in 1941 it was titled Angel Street; the film in 1944 was renamed Gaslight. The devilish Mr. Manningham (really Steven Powell) abiding on Angel Street: clearly an ironic twist! Gaslight remains a more complex and intriguing title. Whatever its name, the play as a Victorian thriller, when done well, is both utterly suspenseful and charmingly melodramatic. Theatre West in its Chestnut Series (Revivals of Great Plays) and producer/director Charlie Mount are presenting a truly handsome and polished production of the classic.
Those familiar with the movie will forever remember Ingrid Bergman's astounding performance, so the play must have an outstanding leading lady to play Bella Manningham, slowly and methodically being driven insane by her conniving husband. The audience must be convinced of her innermost fears and desperation. Corinne Shor fits the bill, providing much, much more. In her hands, Bella is girlsihly gitty, charming, devoted, kind and totally vulnerable to Manningham's (John Cygan) despiccable lies and manipulation. Cygan underplays, creating the perfect villain: he appears debonnaire with every move, in fact, every woman's dream, and yet with a sudden and subtle turn of phrase, metaphorically sends a poisonous arrow straight to Bella's heart. The older servant Elizabeth has a delicate comedic flair in the fine performance of Mary Garripoli, and lovely Emily Bridges makes Nancy a saucy temptress in her seduction of Manningham - something the wonderful Angela Lansbury could never have done on film due to the strict censorship of the time. Of the excellent ensemble, it is Don Moss as Inspector Rough who steals the show. His momnet-to-moment absent-mindedness and unexpected clever ability to figure out the most minute details of the crime add great humor to the proceedings. The set design by Jeff G. Rack is elegant, especially the reds, as are the costumes by Valentino. Mount's direction is impeccable, making the entire production as sumptuously entertaining as a hearty Beef Wellington. Britannia rules at Theatre West!
5 out of 5 stars


Blogger Redcap Star said...

We too think Gaslight is perfection. Across the board this is an exquisite Theatre West production and an evening not to be missed. Everyone is spot on and Don Moss is a hoot...charmingly and craftily befuddled and then, of course, he solves the crime! We just loved it! Bravo to TW and all involved.

August 31, 2009 7:34 PM  

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