Monday, April 23, 2012

My Cousin Rachel @ The Gate

Since we don't normally see The Gate productions, the lovely MK was there on the opening night last Tuesday and kindly wrote this guest review for us.

The Gate's production of Daphne du Maurier's My Cousin Rachel delivers on the promises of its poster.  The Gothic suspense is filled with sexual tension and ambiguity.  The audience never know who is telling the truth in this tale of either madness or manipulation.  Most people, like myself, are probably unfamiliar with the original story and I think those people will get the most out of the production.  Not knowing the outcome is always better in a suspense tale of course. The premise is good and the twists and turns keep the audience guessing until after the end.

The performances are uniformly impressive but Hannah Yelland in the title role is exceptional, charming, taunting and mysterious.  She is also convincingly Italian in her mannerism and attitude. Whether it is the original du Maurier or Joseph O'Connor's adaptation that deserve the credit the Italian character's dialogue is entirely credible with many phrases being direct translations from Italian.  I also particularly enjoyed Bosco Hogan and John Cronin as the faithful servants.  They deliver much of the hilarity in a surprisingly funny production, humour not something I associate readily with du Maurier.  Michael Legge plays the straight role of the intense and confused young man with aplomb.  And it is really this central pairing of Legge and Yelland that make the whole premise work.

My main quibble with the production is the set.  The heavy interior set reminded me of Jane Eyre but the use of this heavy interior as an exterior and a beach at that just didn't work.  I was unable to suspend my disbelief and the addition of piles of sand to the living room set only served to make me feel as if the servants I enjoyed so much were slacking in their duties.  This niggle aside the production is very entertaining.  There are lots of ooh and aah moments and the woman sitting next to me even asked if I thought we should be taking notes on how to get a man to eat out of your hand.  Whether you need to take notes or not, it's an enjoyable evening.

My Cousin Rachel runs at the Gate until 19th May.  Tickets are €15 - €32.

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