Reviewed by Lisa Cook
Last night I had a fantastic opportunity to take my mother to the theatre to see ‘My Cousin Rachel’. What a great evening we had!
If you haven’t already been to the Lyceum Theatre in Sheffield, it’s a wonderful historical building that’s over a hundred years old. There are the stalls, first-floor circle and then the second-floor balcony consisting of over 1000 seats. But, to be honest, wherever you sit you will have a great view. Last night, I was sat in the stalls close to a fire exit and felt a considerable draft. So, it would be worth wearing warm clothes.
This psychological thriller with a touch of romance is set along the Cornish coastline and promises an exciting few hours of entertainment.
The show begins with a youthful, cautious Philip (played by Jack Holden from Outlander) in the dining room. John Seecombe is the older servant; he has been with the family for decades and likes things done just so (Sean Murray from Casualty). Next to enter is the adorable Thomas Connors (John Lumsden from Doctors) who obviously loves the master and his family. Nicholas Kendall is the steadfast family solicitor who is also a good friend to the deceased Mr Ashley. He is very serious and aware of how Philip should behave at all times (Simon Shepherd from Peak practice). His playful, flirtatious daughter Louise Kendall (Aruhan Glieva from Doctors) is next on stage. Followed by the much-anticipated entrance of Rachel Coryn Ashley (Helen George from Call the Midwife) and finally the slimy Italian solicitor Guido Rinaldi (Christopher Hollis from EastEnders).
The show begins with Philip explaining how upset he is at the passing of his guardian Ambrose Ashley. He talks openly with Nickolas about the recent correspondence he has received from Ambrose. Very quickly the conversation turns to the widow Rachel, the Countess Sangalletti who is in fact also Ambrose’s cousin. There are numerous rumours about her unladylike behaviour in Italy. How much of this is true? Nickolas persuades Philip to give Rachel a chance and she is invited to Barton House to pay her respects to the family and many staff who loved and respected Ambrose. What could possibly go wrong?
There is the suggestion of love in the air between Philip and Louise, but how will the arrival of another lady on the scene affect the dynamics? Right from the beginning, Philip has his heart set on hating his cousin Rachel the scheming, thieving, seducer and murderess, what on earth does she want coming to Cornwall in this manner. Surely, it must be to contest Ambrose’s will and become sole heir to the Ashley estate. Or is it?
This is a fantastic adaptation by the talented Joseph O’Connor, of the 1951 classic tale of intrigue by Daphne Du Maurier ‘My Cousin Rachel’. The sets were simple in design but very good at creating a great gothic atmosphere with superb lighting and fantastic music that was perfect for this show. The costumes were beautiful and a credit to the design staff.
The acting in this show is amazing and really takes you back in time. Helen George was outstanding with a fantastic accent, in my opinion, she stole the show. Simon Shepherd was great, though a little quiet as the reserved gentleman. Jack Holden really came to life as his character developed in the second half. John Lumsden and Sean Murray portrayed the staff fantastically. Aruhan Galieva what a lady! Great performance and fantastic voice certainly one to watch out for. Christopher Hollis was brilliant as the ‘foreigner’ again a fantastic accent.
To conclude, this is a fantastic adaptation of a gothic murder mystery with a great love interest.
If you like period pieces I would certainly advise you to book tickets.
Tickets cost from £15 (booking fees may apply).
My Cousin Rachel is at the Lyceum Theatre in Sheffield from 20-25 January 2020, for more information or to book tickets visit www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk or call the box office on 0114 249 6000.
Lyceum Theatre, Norfolk St, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, S1 1DA | 0114 249 6000