THE dank, January evening when Altrincham Garrick Playhouse present Gaslight, is reflected by the sombre stage illuminated by flickering gaslights.
Director, Ros Greenwood, has adopted a unique approach by creating a constantly nightmarish feeling which keeps the audience in silent awe.
The eerie atmosphere in Jack Manningham’s Victorian psychological thriller is captured throughout.
It’s about a man whose mental cruelty towards his wife, drives her to the point of madness.
The play’s success depends not only on the superb acting by all the cast, but also on lighting and sound effects provided by Geoff Scullard, Natasha Klein, Ros Greenwood and James Merrington.
The arch-villain is Jonathan Black’s Jack Manningham. He conveys well a man who systematically terrorises his wife by inferring she is responsible for the disappearance of objects.
Rare acts of kindness – such as a trip to the theatre – are cancelled when he calls her half-witted.
Before Jack’s true motive is revealed, he has dalliances with the maid, a flirtatious Vicky Siddle.
Parissa Zamanpour is outstanding as his downtrodden wife, Bella.
Every attempt to please her husband is rebuffed. Parissa’s facial expressions convey Bella’s feelings perfectly.
Enter Mark Butt’s Inspector Rough. His common sense and sanity add fresh air as he unearths Jack’s criminal past.
In a tense scene, his Inspector Rough and Jonathan’s Jack Cunningham confront one another like rutting stags.
Only at the end do we see the light.
Gaslight is at Altrincham Garrick Playhouse until January 21. For tickets, telephone 0161 928 1677 or book on line at altrinchamgarrick.co.uk. Star rating:
* * * * *