Gaslight opens at the New Alex Theatre

A Victorian melodrama that was actually written in 1938 and has been filmed twice doesn’t necessarily sound like the most obvious play for a revival, But Gaslight is absolutely riviting, with excellent performances from the three leads, and a story that twists and turns and grips right from the very start.

33602_full

The action takes place over the course of one night, in the year 1871, with all events focusing on the drawing room in the home of Bella and Jack Manningham. What seems like a happy marriage is very soon shown to be anything but, as Bella is unveiled as a woman most definitely on the edge of madness, a family afflication which also affected her mother, who died a suicide. But questions are also raised by the actions of Jack Manningham, who is certainly a cruel and unfeeling husband who may just be pushing his wife headfirst into her madness. Who is really hiding precious objects in the house? Why is Bella forbidden to enter the top floor of her own home? And why do those gaslights keep flickering and dimming when Bella is alone? The arrival of a mysterious ex detective called Rough may soon answer all those questions, but will Bella find the answer before she descends into madness? This is the premise of Gaslight.

gaslight

Kara Tointon is excellent as Bella, the frail wife who suffers at the hands of her evil husband. She plays the role as the epitome of a Victorian female, fragile, subservient and helpless. Her scenes with Rupert Young as her husband Jack crackle with uneasy tension, even during their lighter moments, and her final scene is delivered with a clever weakness that is just brilliant. Rupert Young is perfect foil, a real villainous character who uses his height and build in his performance, giving Jack the air of menace that the role calls for. He also has great chemistry with the slinky, kittenish maid Nancy (Charlotte Blackledge), a saucy minx with her eyes firmly on her boss.

kara-tointon

Keith Allen is simply amazing as Rough, the visitor who turns out to be a retired detective, obsessed with a case he might just be able to solve after 20 long years. He brings humour to the proceedings, and his characterisation is both warm and genuinely funny at times, but with the right amount of menace when he confronts Jack.

The confining of the action to one room gives it a Gothic, claustrophobic air, and there are times when the tension is almost unbearable, particularly in the scene where Rough is hiding from Jack, and housekeeper Elizabeth (the excellent Helen Anderson) is trying to draw attention away from his hiding place. There are also a couple of extra surprises at the end that leave the audience feeling very satisfied – if not a little jumpy.

Gaslight is a satisfying melodrama, a real treat for dark and misty January nights.

Highly recommended.

Gaslight

New Alex Theatre

11-14th January – then touring nationwide

Click here for ticket information

The Return of Mr Selfridge

Sunday night sees the return of the rather delectable Jeremy Piven to our screens as the huge TV hit Mr Selfridge returns for its third series. I’m a huge fan of Harry, and of the series in general, so I have to admit to rather looking forward to its welcome return.

selfridge2

The new series will kick off in 1919, with Harry mourning his wife Rose. The real Rose died in 1918, when the First World War had not yet ended, but the series transports the death forward in time. Frances O Connor has left the series, but we have new cast members in the shape of Kara and Hannah Tointon who are playing Harry’s daughters. The new series promises to be as glossy and glamorous as previous affairs, starting with a wedding as Rosalie Selfridge (Kara) marries a Russian Prince, a romantic match that might not be as fairytale as it seems, not least because Prince Charming is penniless and see’s Rosalie as a meal ticket.

ad_155021012-e1419005458959

Mr-Selfridge

The series looks set to be another smash hit, as Harry’s life unfortunately begins to spiral out of control. Jeremy Piven is a charismatic actor par excellence, and I can’t wait to watch him get his acting chops around the downfall of this great man. And, from a fashion point of view, the stunning images from Rosalie’s wedding are getting me very excited about the series reaching the 1920s.

As ever, when a series of Mr Selfridge hits our screens, our modern-day Selfridges put together an edit of products to celebrate it hitting our screens, containing iconic images, food and drink products.

Here are some of my favourite picks from this seasons Mr Selfridge edit.

 SELFRIDGES SELECTION Butter crunch biscuits in tin £7.99 click to visit Selfridges

SELFRIDGES SELECTION Butter crunch biscuits in tin
£7.99 click to visit Selfridges

 SELFRIDGES SELECTION Raspberry Hazelnut & Chocolate marshmallow     £6.99 click to visit Selfridges

SELFRIDGES SELECTION Raspberry Hazelnut & Chocolate marshmallow
£6.99
click to visit Selfridges

 SELFRIDGES SELECTION Nine-piece Marc de Champagne milk chocolate truffles     £9.99 click to visit Selfridges

SELFRIDGES SELECTION Nine-piece Marc de Champagne milk chocolate truffles
£9.99
click to visit Selfridges

 SELFRIDGES SELECTION London Strong brew tea bags     £6.99 click to visit Selfridges

SELFRIDGES SELECTION London Strong brew tea bags
£6.99 click to visit Selfridges

 SELFRIDGES SELECTION There's No Fun Like Work Heritage mug     £15.00 click to visit Selfridges

SELFRIDGES SELECTION There’s No Fun Like Work Heritage mug
£15.00
click to visit Selfridges

 SELFRIDGES SELECTION Nesta Heritage mug     £15.00 click to visit Selfridges

SELFRIDGES SELECTION Nesta Heritage mug
£15.00
click to visit Selfridges

 SELFRIDGES SELECTION Horn Blower notebook     £12.00 click to visit Selfridges

SELFRIDGES SELECTION Horn Blower notebook
£12.00
click to visit Selfridges

 SELFRIDGES SELECTION Lady and Store Heritage mug     £15.00 click to visit Selfridges

SELFRIDGES SELECTION Lady and Store Heritage mug
£15.00
click to visit Selfridges

 SELFRIDGES SELECTION Chocolate Break Hat Box     £50.00 click to visit Selfridges

SELFRIDGES SELECTION Chocolate Break Hat Box
£50.00
click to visit Selfridges

 SELFRIDGES SELECTION Harry Gordon Selfridge Hamper     £125.00 click to visit Selfridges

SELFRIDGES SELECTION Harry Gordon Selfridge Hamper
£125.00
click to visit Selfridges

To view the complete Selfridges Selection of Artisan food, drink and memorabilia, click here.