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Winners of the British All Winners and Glasgow International Drama Festivals

Cytringan Players

27-30 October 2010

Gaslight by Patrick Hamilton

Directed by Pat Garton

The play is set in fog-bound London in 1880 at the lower middle class home of Jack Manningham and his wife Bella. It is late afternoon, a time which Hamilton notes as being the time "before the feeble dawn of gaslight and tea".

At the opening of the drama Bella is clearly on edge, and the stern reproaches from her overbearing husband (who flirts with the servants) makes matters worse. What most perturbs Bella is Manningham's unexplained disappearances from the house: he will not tell her where he is going, and this increases her anxiety. As the drama unfolds, it becomes clear that Manningham is intent on convincing Bella that she is going mad, even to the point of assuring her she is 'imagining' the gas light in the house is dipping.

The appearance of a police detective called Rough soon leads Bella to realise that far from going mad, she is married to a psychopath. Rough explains that the apartment above was once occupied by one Alice Barlow, a wealthy woman who was murdered for her jewels but that the murderer never uncovered them.

It transpires that Manningham goes to the flat each night, searching for the jewels and causing the light in the house below to go down. Rough convinces Bella to assist him in exposing Manningham as the murderer, which she does, but not before she takes revenge on Manningham by pretending to help him escape. At the last minute she reminds him that, having gone 'mad', she is not accountable for her actions. The play closes with Manningham being led away by the police.

 

The storyline may sound familiar to you as the play has twice been made into a film, in 1940 and 1944, and it remains one of the longest-running non-musicals in Broadway history.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Cast

  Jack Manningham - Kevin French

  Bella Manningham - Patricia Coleman

  Rough - Vince Perry

  Nancy - Sophie Robinson

  Elizabeth - Sarah Stringer

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