I have never been quite, as blown away as most critics, but this play Gas Light written by Patrick Hamilton in 1938, is one of the path-breaking plays of that era, capturing a stock vignette of Victorian London. It is a suspense thriller that was made a landmark.
The show not only gives us an insight into the intelligent work, but takes us into a paranoia trap as Mrs Mannigham (Shaan Katari Libby), suffers from a mental illness. The cunning and convincing husband Mannigham, played his role, grappling with his wife’s gradual breakdown by very devious means. There is also a sadistic husband, who has a criminal past, unknown to her.
As the play progresses, the entry of a refined police inspector, unravels the sordid past of the husband, who is ultimately trapped, and this forms the denouement of the play.
Indeed this drama, with its Victorian vernacular, had a charm of its own, coupled with psychic drama and a racy plot that kept us at the edge of our seats.
A stellar performance of P C Ramakrishna with his booming voice and dialogue delivery, as detective Rough, stole the show. He brought out this play in depth with his psychological investigation, than through a conventional detective show. Certainly Ramakrishna managed to build up a sizeable fan base, mainly because of his solid performance. The supporting artists Deepa Nambiar as Elizabeth and Smriti Parameshwar as Nancy, the saucy maid were appreciative.
This Victorian thriller presents a window, into the Mannigham household, where everything and everyone, seem to disappear and re-appear at different times.
It was staged by the Madras Players, the oldest theatre group of India, who have been consistently producing meaningful, theatre production for 60 years.
Directed by Michael Muthu, a well known man in theatrical direction who has directed more than 80 productions, this play is considered as the master piece of atmosphere, with the gas lights and Victorian inspired architecture on its sets.
Undoubtedly, with its old-fashioned decency and dogged determination, the play won over all the players in this group, and the fans. It was a great deliverance, indeed.