THE Canterbury Players ensure that Gaslight written in 1938, and set in a claustrophobic Victorian house, sends shivers down your spine.
Patrick Hamilton’s eerie masterpiece features a woman who is driven to the verge of madness by her manipulative husband.
In an inspired performance Rex Mears illustrates how a husband can reduce his wife to a nervous wreck by playing mind games with her. Objects mysteriously disappear, the gas lights flicker (thanks to lighting designer Bill Palmr) and, to rub salt in it all, he sets his lecherous sights on the maid.
The ultimate act of cruelty is when he appears to be kind and promises Bella, his wife, a trip to the theatre, only to change his mind after some minor perceived misdemeanour on her part.
Debbie Dickerson takes the audience with her on her path of fear when she plays the pale, shivering wreck who is Bella.
In a no holds barred performance, she weeps. cries out and even shouts in a bid to establish her innocence. The Canterbury Players are lucky to have an actor of this calibre among them.
The frayed atmosphere is apparent from the start when, trembling with fear, Bella tries to serve some muffins. This nervous wreck of a woman is finally saved when the bewshiskered Detective Rough (a solid Colin Baker) arrives to prove her husband guilty of an earlier serious crime.
Glad director Ann Robinson emphasises the melodrama.
* Gaslight is at Brook Road Methodist Church Hall, Flixton until November 26.
For tickets, telephone 0161 748 8403.
Star rating ****