It was a long but worthy venture into a world of complex relationships challenged by dramatic state of affairs with Daphne du Mauier’s Rebecca.

Nash Theatre
Merthyr Road Uniting Church, New Farm QLD

Friday, 6 November, 2009

It was a long but worthy venture into a world of complex relationships challenged by dramatic state of affairs with Daphne du Mauier’s Rebecca.

Though scenes were cut and the cast was reduced, it was still a lengthy unravelling of events. But, fortunately, a worthwhile wait. An overall great articulation of the story smoothed over the few moments I thought the actors might be out of their depth with such intricate subject-matter.

Set it the 1950s in Cornwall, England, Maxim de Winter returns home with his new wife to his estate, Manderley. There are mixed reactions from those who keep the home and are grieving the loss of the first Mrs. de Winter, Rebecca, who drowned at sea one year ago. Mysterious circumstances surround her death. Housekeeper Mrs. Danvers was devoted to Rebecca and struggles with the new lady of the house. As the new Mrs. de Winter finds her feet among the strange and cold atmosphere of the home, she becomes the centre of conflict for the characters around her.

The strong cast provided intense performances to convey this story’s multiple-layers. Paul Careless was a composed and tricky Maxim de Winter. Gently he peeled back the layers of mystery as the audience learnt about Manderley’s recent history. The dark Mrs. Danvers, played by Sandra Harman, was delightfully fearsome. Her gorgeous high-necked, floor-length, black gown was striking and helped create her sinister persona. I believe Harman would have really enjoyed playing this role.  Paula Chiverall milked Mrs. de Winter’s timidity and curiosity, and matured on stage from the meek new-comer to a strong-willed woman who steps up to protect her husband. Linda Morgan as Beatrice Lacy was a sharp-witted light in the gloom, playing off her husband, played by John Ashton, with dynamism.

A Low-budget production such as this often requires the imaginations of those watching to fill in the gaps. The simple but effective set let the mind’s eye do the rest. Costumes were great, and although Munro-Wallis mixed the time periods, they successfully separated Mrs. Danvers and butler Frith from the other characters, just as he intended.

The play is slow and tedious at times, but the characters are wonderfully intriguing and this makes the passing time a valuable theatre experience.

Bookings on 3379 4775

Until 14 November 2009

Anne-Marie Peard

Anne-Marie spent many years working with amazing artists at arts festivals all over Australia. She's been a freelance arts writer for the last 10 years and teaches journalism at Monash University.

Anne-Marie Peard

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