Word of the day –
Gaslight: To manipulate events and situations in order to make a person doubt their own memory, perception and quite often, their sanity.

I normally don’t attend theatre on a weeknight but an excellent ticket offer provided me with some great seats for the latest Mirvish play, the psychological thriller Gaslight. This production features two very well-accomplished and renowned actors, Ian McElhinney & Owen Teale, whom you may recognize from their roles on Game of Thrones, as well as Flora Montgomery, cast in the leading role of Bella Manningham,

The Victorian thriller Gaslight is set in London circa 1880 at the home of Jack Manningham and his wife Bella. At the opening of the drama Bella is clearly on edge, and the stern reproaches from her overbearing husband makes matters worse. What most perturbs Bella is Jack's unexplained disappearances from the house…that mysteriously coincide with the dimming of the house ‘gas lights’. Jack will not tell her where he is going, and this increases her anxiety. As the drama unfolds, it becomes clear that Jack is intent on convincing Bella that she is going insane.

The appearance of police detective Rough soon leads Bella to realise that Jack is responsible for her torment. Rough explains that her house was once occupied by Alice Barlow, a wealthy woman who had been murdered for her jewels. The murderer was never found nor was the murderer able to locate the jewels that presumably still remain hidden somewhere within the house.

It turns out that Jack is the murderer in question (no surprise there) and that Jack’s disappearances are to facilitate his search for the missing jewels which he believes are located in the barricaded upper level of the house. With some additional detective work that leads to the discovery of the missing jewels, Rough convinces Bella to assist him in exposing Jack as the murderer. This revelation ultimately leads to Jack's arrest, but not before Bella gets a chance to exact sweet revenge on Jack for everything he has put her through.

My usual theatre repertoire consists of musicals or Shakesepeare. It was a pleasant change to see a well-crafted, somewhat more contemporary drama. The play's setting was limited to one very elaborate stage set as the action was contained to the main room of the Manningham house. The lighting was perfectly dimmed to suit the mood for the thriller but I wasn’t a fan of the odd choice selection of music that detracted from, rather than enhanced, the suspense it was meant to build up. The cast was brilliant with particular credit to Ian McElhinney in the role of Rough who offered the perfect mix of gravitas and humour. Through the whole play I couldn’t help but think that Flora Montgomery reminded me of Joanna Froggatt who would also do a lovely job with the part of Bella. I highly recommend this production to any fans of Victorian era, gothic thrillers. Gaslight is playing in downtown Toronto at the Ed Mirvish Theatre until February 28. 
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