The term “gaslighting” has entered common parlance in recent months, and now there’s a chance to see the play responsible for originating the phrase. Gaslight, a 1938 play by Patrick Hamilton, is the story of a woman, Bella Manningham (Kara Tointon), whose husband Jack (Rupert Young) is trying to drive her mad, by doing things and claiming she is responsible, accusing her of lying, and treating her like a child.
Enter the mysterious Inspector Rough (Keith Allen) with an implausible yet strangely logical reason as to why Jack is doing all this. He convinces Bella of his good intentions, and requests her help.
In some ways I was disappointed by the play: it wasn’t at all as I had expected, and I was surprised that the plot seemed to be revealed so early on. However, as I watched, I was drawn in. Bella, who initially seemed so annoyingly subservient, clearly has intelligence and spirit, and her character definitely develops during the play. (Not to mention that its important to recognise the effect domestic abuse can have on a person). The play had plenty of thrilling and tense moments, and ultimately I found it very satisfying.
Kara Tointon was superb as Bella, with Rupert Young suitably chilling as her husband, and Keith Allen effective as Inspector Rough. There is strong support, too, from Helen Anderson and Charlotte Blackledge as the servants of the house. Its definitely worth trying to catch this touring production.