The stage of The Mayflower theatre in Southampton brought to life the most famous words from Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca; “Last night I went to Manderley again.” Directed by Emma Rice, the play depicted du Maurier’s characters true to the events of the book. We watched as the stage filled with sailors singing their shanties, whilst the props were set up so that the scenes moved seamlessly to give a sense of time and location to the play.
The Kneehigh theatre company recreated the emotions of the characters, getting the audience’s attention right from the dramatic start. Tristan Sturrock, who played Maxim de Winter, portrayed both the grieving husband to his late wife and the proud, wealthy owner of Manderley. Along with the lighting and props, Maxim de Winter’s temper was shown to be manipulative and unpredictable with any slight provocation.
Imogen Sage played Mrs de Winter; the main character of the play. Her character was at first an innocent and shy young girl who was not of the same class as Maxim so was unsure of how to behave. When they met in Monte Carlo she invoked curiosity into Maxim and they shortly married, honeymooned and returned to the beautiful Manderley. During the revelation of the play we see Mrs de Winter’s character become a strong woman who would do anything for her husband, she knows Maxim really loves her and never did love Rebecca; she decides that Manderley is now her own place to call home.
Probably the most entertaining aspect of the play was the character of Robert. In the book he is the footman and assistant to Frith at Manderley, a quiet, polite young man. Played by Katy Owen, however, the character brought light-hearted humour to the play to make it both enjoyable and slightly less intense. The character is shown to be young, easily pleased and big in personality, and is comically, and somewhat strangely obsessed with answering the phone. All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable experience.
Written by Alice Pheby