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New production of classic mystery illuminates dark psychological themes

Presented by Mirvish Productions
Written by Patrick Hamilton
Directed by David Gilmore

Ian McElhinney, Flora Montgomery and Owen Teale in GASLIGHT ©2016. Photo credit: Cylla von Tiedemann.

The mystery in Patrick Hamilton's Gaslight is slow burning yet powerful. Now on stage at the Ed Mirvish Theatre, a new production of the classic psychological thriller featuring Game of Thrones cast members Owen Teale and Ian McElhinney has made its way across the Atlantic. The play first premiered in London in 1938 and in 1944 it was adapted into a film starring Ingrid Bergman. Since then, it has become a staple of theatre companies in Britain.

Set in a gloomy Victorian mansion, the play centres around the lady of the house, Bella Manningham (Flora Montgomery), who becomes convinced that she is losing her mind just like her mother did before her. Her husband, Jack Manningham (Teale), is frustrated with her for constantly misplacing or losing objects in the houseexcept she can't remember having touched these items at all. Is her memory playing tricks on her? With Mr. Manningham away, she tries to determine if the terror she feels exists in her imagination or if there are dark secrets living in her home. The surprise arrival of a retired detective, Inspector Rough (McElhinney), helps to shed light on her problems, and what they discover together shakes up her seemingly quiet life and marriage.

The term "gaslight" has a double meaning in the play. It means to manipulate someone by psychological means into questioning their own sanity, and also refers to the lighting in Bella's home. The gaslights dim when a person turns another light on somewhere else in the house—this becomes a signal and symbol of fear as the story unfolds.

Director David Gilmore does a fine job of building suspense in the first half of the show, as the truth gradually unravels and a sense of dread washes over the audience. By the second half, the mystery has more or less been revealed so it is not entirely "thrilling" by today's standards, but the dialogue and performances are cleverly devised to keep us guessing throughout.

Montgomery's Bella is perfectly unreliable and dramatic, which often makes us wonder if she is indeed losing her grip on reality. At the same time, Teale's performance as the overbearing Mr. Manningham is frightening enough to keep us on her side. Meanwhile, McElhinney provides some much needed tension relief as the jovial, whisky drinking Inspector Rough. Supporting cast members, Emily Head as the impudent, flirty maid Nancy, and Victoria Lennox as the loyal servant Elizabeth, are also very strong in this production.

Catch this entertaining gem of a play while you can. Gaslight runs until February 28, 2016 at Ed Mirvish Theatre. Visit for more information and to buy tickets.

Show Dates: 
Sun, 2016-01-17 - Sun, 2016-02-28
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