GASLIGHT St Ambrose Players, St Ambrose Church Hall Leyland AND Penwortham St Mary’s Amateur Dramatic Society, St Mary’s Church Hall, Penwortham

David Quick and Sarah White in the St Ambrose Players production of Gaslight
David Quick and Sarah White in the St Ambrose Players production of Gaslight
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Just as we wait for a bus only to find two come along together, so it is this week in Leyland and Penwortham, with two fine productions of Gaslight.

There is just the right amount of gloom in the lounge of Bella and Jack Manningham’s four-storey home in 1880 London.

Jack is a bully who doesn’t miss an opportunity to subject Bella to his rantings.

Items are disappearing. Is Bella hiding things? Does she hear footsteps upstairs? Is she going mad?

Penwortham’s production shows Rachael James (Bella) and Graham Blackburst (Jack) cope well with a wordy script, and the two are perfectly cast.

Janet Iddon does justice to the part of Elizabeth, the housekeeper, who is trying to help her mistress. Despite suffering with laryngitis Jean Southworth does justice to the part of Nancy, the maid, who likes to flirt with her master.

Chris Turner’s engaging portrayal of retired Inspector Rough brings a revelation that will rock the whole household. Is his theory correct? Who is Sidney Power?

Leyland’s production holds special significance for them as it marks the beginning of their 70th year.

Gaslight was their first play in 1944 which, incidentally, is the year Angela Lansbury made her screen debut as Nancy – a part for which she was Oscar nominated.

David White is menacing as Jack who repeatedly torments downtrodden Bella, (an excellent Sarah White.

Sheila Kenny and Kerry Chippendale play trusty Elizabeth and coquettish Nancy and David Quick gives a fine portrayal of Inspector Rough.

Can he explain why the gaslight goes up and down when Bella is home alone? Where are the Barlow rubies?

All these questions and more were answered.

Both are beautifully directed by Philip McLaughlin (Penwortham) and Lionel Glover (Leyland) and the Victorian setsare well made. Lighting is crucial in Gaslight and I congratulate both teams on capturing the atmosphere.

Two powerful productions with excellent acting!

Jenny Robson