My Cousin Rachel | Gate Theatre | Review
My Cousin Rachel | The Gate
Adapted from: Daphne De Maurier's novel by Joseph O'Connor
Directed by: Toby Frow
Cast: Bosco Hogan, John Cronin, Stephen Brennan, Michael Legge, Amy Molloy, Hannah Yelland, Bryan Murray.
Review by: Lauren O'Toole
Joseph O'Connor's adaptation of Daphne De Maurier's 1951 novel opens on an appropriately gothic note. The chilling atmosphere of this moderate thriller is established through the dull tones in the drawing room set – a set dominated by the imposing portrait over the fireplace. This is a portrait of the late Ambrose Ashley and, like its subject, which is omnipresent in the minds and hearts of the play's protagonists, it oversees the curious proceedings in the manor house. At the beginning of My Cousin Rachel we learn that Ambrose Ashley has passed away in Florence, and despite having recently fallen in love with and been married to his cousin Rachel, his vast estate is bequeathed to his ward Philip.
Philip, played by Michael Legge, flits between petulance and paranoia, all brought on by the shock of his beloved guardian's death. Despite the family solicitor Nicholas Kendall's assurance that Ambrose died from a hereditary brain disease, Philip is convinced that there is something, or someone, more sinister behind his demise. When Ambrose's widow Rachel arrives in England to return some of his belongings to his family home, Philip's suspicion immediately falls upon this beautiful and charismatic woman. Hannah Yelland pinpoints Rachel's combination of sensuality and worldliness, and although slightly overdoes the nervy wide-eyed act at the beginning of play, she settles into the role nicely and wins the audience over just as she does the Ashley men. It isn't long before Philip's reservations about Rachel's character are replaced by admiration and, despite those close to him advising against it, he takes action to integrate her back into the Ashley family and their estate.
O'Connor's adaptation of the novel balances the drama with a good deal of humour and while there is sincere tension throughout, the occasional ribaldry and quips are assimilated with ease by the splendid cast, particularly Stephen Brennan in the role of the solicitor. My Cousin Rachel engages its audience with a superb combination of wonderful performances and a swiftly moving plot and, while the storyline is not particularly complex, it certainly fits the bill for an enjoyable evening at the theatre.
Story by EI Team | 09:00 | Monday 23rd April 2012 | Theatre
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