COVID meant it was not the grand night that it no doubt would otherwise have been for the opening of a new play, the return of STC’s major productions, and especially the first mainstage production in the magnificently re-built Her Majesty’s Theatre,
But COVID could not stop it from being a grand performance of a fine classic mystery/suspense thriller in a lavish production by Director Catherine Fitzgerald.
Gaslight is an entertaining, non-convoluted, engaging and superbly written piece, so that it stands up well after 80 years, especially when its traditional strength is imaginatively blended with some non- traditional contemporary casting. This production, in a perfect late Victorian style set by Designer Ailsa Paterson, with subtle lighting (Nic Mollison), augmented by neatly understated music (Andrew Howard) conveys themes that are as relevant today as they were back then.
Ksenja Logos is a wonderfully vulnerable, emotional and victimisable Bella Manningham, almost being driven to believe that she is mad, at the hands of her evil, controlling, bullying husband Jack, convincingly played by Nathan O’Keefe. He is the archetype conscience-less abuser, with systematic, unrelenting, domineering, tyrannical belittling and accusation that typifies domestic abuse as much now as it did then.
Casting Eileen Darley in the traditionally male role of the Inspector is a neat modern switch to exhibit the supportive power of women, which is also demonstrated by Ellen Freeman and Katherine Sortini in the roles of domestic servants who have their own power, rounding out this talented troupe of actors in this vital production of a classical and still relevant play.
The other star of this fine evening, was undoubtedly the magnificent new, world class Her Majesty’s Theatre building itself, now revealed as a stellar addition to the suite of the Adelaide Festival Centre venues, emphasising South Australia’s reputation as The Festival State. On this opening night, the Maj was filled to its COVID-necessitated half capacity to incorporate proper social distancing, poised for not only a sellout season for this excellent production, but also a long starring career as a major focus for the Arts in this Arts-loving city.
State Theatre Company South Australia presents
by Patrick Hamilton
Director Catherine Fizgerald
Venue: Her Majesty's Theatre | 98 Grote Street, Adelaide SA
Dates: 4 – 19 September 20