“Angel Street (Gaslight)” -Three Notch Theatre Review

Photo from Newtowne Players’ website.

It’s fall and it is officially time for the Newtowne Players to put on another production: Angel Street (Gaslight) by Patrick Hamilton, performing September 27-October 13, 2019.

Detective Rough (Larry Silvestro) against Bella’s (Laura Deane) better judgement breaks into Mr. Manningham’s locked secretary to look for clues. (Photo by Sean Burke)

“A Broadway hit first produced on the West End under the title Gaslight and filmed twice, Angel Street tells the story of the Manninghams, who live on Angel Street in 19th century London. All appears to be the essence of Victorian tranquility; however, Mr. Manningham is slowly driving his devoted wife, Bella, to the brink of insanity with an insinuating kindness that masks more sinister motives. As the action unfolds, the author builds and sustains some of the most brilliant, suspenseful sequences in modern theatre.”

Synopsis from: https://www.newtowneplayers.org/angel-street-gaslight.html

Jack Manningham (Shawn Davidson) cheerfully promises to take his wife, Bella (Leigh Deane), to the theatre that very evening. She is delighted at the prospect of leaving the house. (Photo by Sean Burke)

Jack Manningham (Shawn Davidson) explains to Bella (Leigh Deane) why it is wrong for her to take things from around the house and hide them. Bella doesn’t remember doing what he says. (Photo by Sean Burke)

Now, I had no idea what to expect from this play. I was not familiar with the show at all- I prefer to see a show and not know too much about it so I can be surprised. This was the kind of show that I was glad to have limited information about. This production had me on the edge of my seat with my hands by my face waiting to see what happens next.

Jack Manningham (played by Shawn Davidson) is the definition of a “gaslighter” – he makes his wife Bella (played by Leigh Deane) feel as though she is crazy and belonging in a mental hospital, just like her deceased mother. He tells her she misplaces objects, but she has no memory of this. Because of the mental abuse, she feels as though she is crazy and trapped inside a dark home. I spent the show wondering how far her husband was going to take his manipulation. Was he going to become physical? Will Bella Manningham stand up for herself or let herself be put down?

Nancy (Mallory Turvey-Manthorn) looks forward to helping Jack (Shawn Davidson) further terrorize his wife. (Photo by Sean Burke)

Elizabeth (Laura Hinkle) and Detective Rough (Larry Silvestro) console a weeping Bella Manningham (Leigh Deane) who is certain she will be committed to an insane asylum very soon. (Photo by Sean Burke)

When Detective Rough (played by Larry Silvestro) comes into the house and does not explain to Bella who he is, the audience wonders what his true intentions are. Is he going to be the same as her husband or will he be the one to save her from this terrible marriage? Nancy the flirtatious maid (played by Mallory Turvey-Manthorne) is willing to do whatever it takes to gather the attention from her beloved master Mr. Manningham even if that means torturing his wife. The other maid Elizabeth (played by Laura Hinkle) wants what’s best for Bella and realizes the dynamic of their unhealthy relationship.

The stars of the show in my personal opinion would have to be Mr. and Mrs. Manningham. Davidson did an excellent job in his creepy portrayal of a man pretending to care about his wife while having ulterior motives. The only other performance I have seen Davidson in is “Night on Broadway,” where he sang some fun songs, so this was interesting to see his range as an actor. Deane did an excellent job as well- I have never seen her perform before (I believe this is her first time on the Three Notch stage) but she definitely fits right in and belongs there. I felt her emotions and was rooting for her throughout the production.

Direction P. Wade Thompson did an excellent job with his casting decisions. All of the actors played very nicely with each other and worked well together. I really felt each character and each of their individual motives. Some of them wanted to help while others only thought of themselves.  It was really nice to see fresh faces on the stage, as well as seeing familiar actors who I’ve normally seen in silly, musical roles, spread their wings for a drama. The set (designed by Adi Hendlin) really made me feel like I was in the Manningham household. The lighting (designed by Regina Richardson) was excellent! I loved how the lighting changed throughout the production and went from dark and dreary to brighter in certain instances (lighting plays a big part in this play- you have to watch to see what I mean!)

The show runs September 27-October 13 (Thursdays-Saturdays at 8 PM and Sundays at 3:30 PM). Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for students/seniors (65+)/military and $10 for children 12 and under (THIS SHOW IS NOT RECOMMENDED FOR CHILDREN THOUGH). If you go on Thursday, tickets are $10 for EVERYONE! Doors open one hour before the performance for walk in ticket sales, but I highly recommend buying tickets ahead of time.

If you are interested in buying tickets and/or to find out more information, go to https://www.newtowneplayers.org/tickets.html!

Let me know in the comments below what you think of the show!

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