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My Cousin Rachel
3rd December 2019 - 7th December 2019
Theatre Royal Bath Productions presents HELEN GEORGE, SIMON SHEPHERD and JACK HOLDEN in
My Cousin Rachel
adapted from the novel by Daphne du Maurier by Joseph O’Connor
Murderess, seducer, thief, enchantress – or merely a woman intent on survival?
Alluring, exotic and unconventional, Countess Rachel Sangalletti travels from Florence to the Ashley Estate in Cornwall, home of her recently deceased husband. Her presence in the house arouses dark suspicions and uncontrollable desires, not least in young Philip, cousin and heir to the Ashley home.
Feverish passion battles reason in this classic Gothic romance set in the wild landscape of the rock-ribbed Cornish coast.
Helen George plays the deliciously enigmatic Rachel. Known for her role as Trixie Franklin in eight series of Call the Midwife, her recent stage credits include After Miss Julie and Love In Idleness.
Simon Shepherd’s many credits include ITV’s Peak Practice and the West End productions of Posh, The Duck House, Rapture and Art.
Jack Holden plays Philip, Rachel’s cousin. His recent theatre credits include the National Theatre’s War Horse, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Ink.
Anthony Banks was Associate Director at the National Theatre from 2004 – 2014. His many directing credits include The Girl on the Train, Strangers On A Train, Twilight Song, Gaslight, and After Miss Julie.
This menacing psychological thriller by the author of Rebecca and Don’t Look Now, enthralled readers when it was first published in 1951 and went on to become an international best seller. This acclaimed adaptation is by Joseph O’Connor whose novels include the international number one best-seller, Star of the Sea.
“A sinfully enjoyable adaptation” The Irish Times
Production Photographs by Manuel Harlan
Running time: Approx. 2 hours 30 minutes, including interval.
A very British play with an Italian element is Daphne du Maurier's My Cousin Rachel, taking place as it does on an estate in the depths of forbidding stormy Cornwall.
The young and somewhat naive Philip Ashley (Jack Holden) has suddenly come into the inheritance of his uncle, though there is little he can do about it until his 25th birthday in a few months' time. Overseen by his godfather Nicholas Kendall (Simon Shepherd), who has to tread a fine line between being loyal/compassionate and suspicious/doubtful and whose daughter Louise (Aruhan Galieva) may or may not be a potential wife for the young lad, Philip is affronted by the arrival of his uncle's undoubtedly exotic Italian wife Rachel Coryn Ashley (Call The Midwife's Helen George). In part, this is someone who, he believes from letters he has been given, showed little compassion for his uncle during his final weeks. Above all, Philip needs to teach Rachel the norms of living in the Cornish countryside and how to show reciprocal respect to the tenants on the estate following the death of the ultimate landowner. That is, if she intends to stay…
So begins a tale of love and guilt down on the coast, both inextricably linked with money and property, leaving the audience to wonder if the visiting twice-widowed "Countess Sangalletti" has ulterior motives herself or whether her visit is just to meet her cousin. Did she in fact murder her husband with one of her many "brews" which she concocts for different circumstances. And is the chance arrival of her Italian lawyer "friend" more than it seems? Does she have huge debts to pay off and is subtly manipulative in order to do so? So many questions that you begin to doubt your own judgement at times.
The set, which is raised up off the main stage for reasons which become clear part way through the first act, is split between a room in the large estate house where Philip lives, along with his servant John Seecombe (Sean Murray) and his aide Thomas Connor (John Lumsden) and the view over the sea, where coastal walks are there for the taking. Regardless of which area is being represented, the mood is gloomy, dark and cold reflecting both the storyline and the surroundings for Gothic is the intention here and it represents it well, which is not always easy within the confines of a theatre stage. Amidst the claustrophobic atmosphere, there are a few lines which make the audience laugh, mainly concerning now out-dated views on women in society, particularly in reference to the lunar cycle.
Initially you may have little sympathy for poor Philip but that certainly changes as the story progresses and he creates a rod for his own back, as whilst he cannot see what the impact of his actions will be, the rest of us begin to until the final calamitous scene confirms it.
Well-acted by the cast, this new production from Theatre Royal Bath is a great example of the power of women over men in ways which are subtle enough to go unnoticed and yet which can nonetheless lead to their downfall.