19:30 (mat: wed/sat 14:30)
£16 – £30.50
“Is the bathing safe in the bay?”
‘Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again,‘ begins Daphne de Maurier’s famous novel, Rebecca, first published in 1938. Given the Hitchcock treatment, the story the new Mrs De Winter’s entrée into the stately estate of the old Mrs De Winter is a perfectly English classic. It is a great testament to Kneehigh Theatre’s spirit that they have chosen this particular tale to adapt for the stage, but one is left with the feeling that their director, Emma Rice, hasn’t quite pulled it off.
Aesthetically the play is supreme; a wonderfully atmospheric set into which is blended a wooden boat – an ever-present reminder that the drowning of the old Mrs De Winter is the central theme of the story. Performance wise, the entire cast are on the top of their game, conjoining like Elizabethan players to sing moving sea-shanties or dance the Charleston with infectious energy. When siphoning off into their respective parts, I thought Lizzie Winkler’s bubbly Beatrice was excellent, while the Lord Flash-heartian entrance of Jack Favell was a fun moment. Emily Raymond’s ice-queen portrayal of Mrs Duvall was also acted to perfection, who by simply standing still oozed with stiff efficiency.
The problem with this version of Rebecca is that it feels more like a Vaudevillian farce at times, reneging upon De Maurier’s studied tension-builds & replacing them with out-of place humour. Well, for the first half, anyway, for after the interval the play picks up immensely: the three streams of plot, atmosphere & performance converging upon the stage with genuine excellence.
However, the ultimate feeling I garnered upon watching this play was as if I was reading the Shakespeare stories created by Charles Lamb for a younger audience, with all the clever nuances of the original in absentia. THREE STARS
Reviewer : Damo Bullen