Seen at Cambridge Arts Theatre, 12.3.05.
'Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again'. Du Maurier's novel makes an enjoyably gripping play in this new adaptation by Frank McGuinness. It begins with the second Mrs Maxim de Winter alone on a beach of white stones, with a projection beyond of breakers running in to shore. Through the projection a dim yellow light picks out the features of Mrs Danvers climbing a great stair. She is fetishistically, erotically obsessed with her lady Rebecca, the first Mrs de Winter. There is an over emphais on sexual deviation in the play: a young footman likes make-up and ginger beer, and the estate manager was almost gay (played by family friend Martyn Stanbridge).
Nigel Havers was excellent as de Winter, and Danvers was brilliantly played with steely focus by Maureen Beattie. There were rather too many laughs in the first half and perhaps the menace grew more slowly than du Maurier might have wished in the second.
A great delight to see such a lavish, well-cast show running with precision. In the final scene the beach becomes blazing coals as Manderley is destroyed by fire. It made a juicily satisfying ending to the evening's entertainment.The houses are record-breakingly good, the cast have incredibly been given a pay rise, and everyone goes home happy.