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Sunday, March 8, 2015

Twenty Club's Gaslight lit up the stage

A talented cast from the Twenty Club lit up the stage with their atmospheric production of the Victorian melodrama Gaslight at Llangollen Town Hall last night (Saturday).

The story revolves around Jack Manningham, who is slowly and deliberately driving his wife, Bella, insane in an attempt to have her committed and therefore prevent her from discovering too much about his extremely murky past.

He has almost succeeded in his evil plan when help arrives in the shape of former detective,  Rough, who has strong reason to believe that Manningham is the thief and murderer he first encountered as a young bobby 20 years previously in exactly the same house.

All the action of the play, by Patrick Hamilton, takes place in just one place – the typically overstuffed living room of a mid-Victorian upper-class household,
And it had been created with such care by the club’s backstage team that it provided the perfect claustrophobic setting for this taut psychological thriller.

The acting from a relatively small cast was flawless.
Twenty Club stalwart Arwel Jarvis was the embodiment of a haughty Victorian gentleman with a dark secret to hide. So accomplished was he that, at times, he frightened the audience as well as his poor wife.

Reacting with just the right amount of pathos to this dastardly villain was Paula Sutton as Bella Manningham. As she descended into her husband-induced madness she took us all with her into the pit of despair.
The man who finally solves this deeply disturbing whodunnit is Mathew Oswald-Haggett as the ex-police detective. His character’s name may have been Rough but Mathew’s performance was marvellously smooth.

Another neat performance came from one of the younger members of the club’s on-stage team, Amy Tennant, who fitted her part of the Manningham’s flighty maid Nancy like a velvet glove.
And no production by the club would be complete without an appearance by Noreen Turner, who this time was totally believable as the family cook and housekeeper, Elizabeth.

While the producer for Gaslight was the highly experienced Mike Law, the piece had at its helm David Edgar, a first-time director for the club. And the end result was a real credit to his abilities. 

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