30 November to 5 December 2015
Reviewed by Louise Abbott
Set in the traditional and elegant Mayflower Theatre comes the tragic tale of Daphne Du Maurier’s classic Rebecca. The theatre, located in the centre of busy Southampton centre, plays home to some of the best touring performers. It is a beautiful theatre full of character. There are plenty of car parks within walking distance and the welcome is always warm. Tickets are attractively priced with most budgets catered for, although it must be said that to get the most from a performance you really need to be within a reasonable distance to the stage, with the cheaper tickets placing you so far away from the performers that faces blur even for the most sharp sighted.
The play itself is a classic and the performers are very accomplished professionals with rarely a foot going wrong. The slight hesitation and tentativeness that an opening performance brings to a show was quickly pushed aside as the actors found their stride. The characterisation of all was very good with Tristan Sturrock and Imogen Sage standing out as Mr and Mrs Winter, the two central characters. Triston’s portrayal was interesting and, mostly, nicely understated, particularly in the first act with a range of emotions that started from the expected caricature of a traditional 1930’s ‘Lord of the Manor’ into the slow, but inevitable, decline into morose reflection and turmoil brought on by the weight of his own guilt.
I am always fascinated watching how a particular actor plays a character that changes from basically ‘good’ to ‘bad’ and Imogen doesn’t disappoint. She has a very good range and tackles the first act as the dutiful ‘out of her depth’ wife very well indeed. Very believable and she plays to the audience beautifully. The second act was good with some nice touches but I would have liked to have seen a better balance with more relish and emotion in her transformation. The light and shade between the first and second act, the downward spiral of a transformed woman could have been wider – the lighter the first act the darker the second and this was very light to begin with but not as dark as it could, or should, have been.
The other characters were all very strong indeed. Richard Clews is vocally very clear and was excellent throughout. His Frith was delightful with nice mannerisms, but the doctor requires more of a change to be believable. Andy Williams and Lizzie Winkler as Giles and Beatrice respectively make a great double act who would have stolen the show if not for the other strong performances. Nice comic touches throughout with great vocals from Lizzie. The ‘drunk down the staircase’ scene was well done and nice snappy dialogue is always wonderful to hear – the two performers making it look easy.
Katy Owen as Robert was everyone’s favourite character, judging from the reaction of the audience. It’s great to see a character connect so well with the audience and the performance was simply wonderful. Very comedic and the laughs came easy with just a glance or odd line here and there. This really does show the talent of the actor and Katy is clearly very capable. Excellent work. Emily Raymond as Mrs Danvers is delightful. The first act was very strong, very dark, almost over powering at times with the potential to steal scenes if wanted. The second act was less so as other characters descended to a level making her seem less foreboding, less menacing. Whether this was intentional doesn’t really matter as Emily played her beautifully. This character provides an actor with much to work with and in Emily’s portrayal she ended up almost as a beacon of light and righteousness. I always like the turn of characterisation and this was very well done although, again more light to the shade would be a positive tweak (or a complete change to greater darkness in the second act would be delightful to see!).
Ewan Wardrop as Jack Favel has obvious ability especially with his singing which has a lovely tone. The acting, comedic touches and interaction with the audience are all very good. My only criticism is for much more emotion in the second act especially when he is confronted with the truth of the situation he has found himself in. For me it was far too understated,-at times almost blasé as awful and shocking truths befall him.
I would like to congratulate the rest of the cast for their fantastic support throughout. The show was performed almost faultlessly with just very minor hiccups. The stage was beautiful, sound levels excellent, design and direction as professional as you would expect. I would like to especially mention the musical performances that are scattered throughout. The playing is atmospheric and to a very high standard. The arrangements are wonderful as too is the singing, with the higher harmony girl voices mixing beautifully with the deeper vocals. A real unexpected pleasure.
Despite the odd criticism I cannot rate this show high enough. For a first performance it is wonderful. The audience loved it and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Without a doubt the show will improve a few notches every performance and this can only mean one thing – as long as it’s your sort of play you are in for a treat.
Tickets cost from £12.50 to £35 (booking fees may apply).
Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca is at the Mayflower Theatre in Southampton until 5 December 2015. For more information or book tickets click here or call the box office on 02380 711811.
Mayflower Theatre, Commercial Road, Southampton, SO15 1GE | 02380 711811