Daphne du Maurier’s classic novel Rebecca is a dark tale of jealousy and secrets, providing plenty of ammunition to fire the imagination of a creative theatre company.
This week’s production at Sheffield’s Lyceum Theatre launches in spectacular fashion. A boat lowers from on high with a body strapped underneath to symbolise the fate of the previous lady of the house.
The set is a visual masterpiece with wrought iron balconies overlooking the cove and sweeping flights of stairs on which characters run, dance and crawl.
Actors playing musical instruments sing shanties and operate puppets including cormorants whose presence signify that a dramatic act or declaration is in the offing.
Imogen Sage plays the drab, slightly dull, new bride Mrs de Winter, living in the home and the shadow of a dead woman. She gives a polished performance as she transforms from shy, nervy newcomer to confident, capable mistress of the house.
Tristan Sturrock is convincing as callous, detached Maxim de Winter whose self-assured manner deserts him when his secret comes tumbling out.
The sinister side of the story is driven home by cheerless housekeeper Mrs Danvers, played by Emily Redmond.
Dark themes are balanced by light-hearted scenes which feature predominantly in the first half.
Lizzie Winkler and Andy Williams are a joy as the loud, giddy party-loving couple Beatrice and Giles.
Katy Owen milks the laughs in her role as young Welsh servant Robert with an amusing telephone manner and a penchant for running around the stage.
And Strictly Come Dancing fans will be delighted by the flamboyant entrance which Ewan Wardrop makes in his role as blackmailing bounder Jack Favell.
Rebecca is on the syllabus for A-level students and this production by Kneehigh Theatre ticks all the boxes.