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Review: Rebecca at Newcastle Theatre Royal

A return to our Theatre Blog... Victoria Ling, from 137 Imaging (  is guest reviewer:

Newcastle Theatre Royal
Until Saturday 16th May 2015.

Forgive me, but I have neither read the book, nor watched the film of this ‘well known classic’.  I was, however, drawn to the poster advertising Rebecca, and sometimes we need to judge ‘the book by its cover.’

We begin with a very dark setting and screen still down then eerily hearing the words “last night I dreamed I went to Manderley again,” from Rebecca as she makes not one but two entrances!  Then the rocks come alive as the ensemble burst into song as fishermen. It is those little pieces that make Rebecca such a clever production from the Kneehigh Theatre Group.

A huge nod even before the play fully begins goes to Leslie Travers for set design.  The main setting is the house Manderley which then becomes a cottage and then a beach to even the servant quarters without too much dissembling and reassembly. Did you know that there are many things you can do with a boat too?  Then there’s the dog! Yes, there’s a dog that is helped along by a cast member that keeps the audience entertained.

We are given more light relief from Beatrice (Lizzie Winkler), Giles (Andy Williams) and Robert (Katy Owen).  With Winkler and Williams the portrayal of lavish high society is so comedic and over-the-top at times that is it quite lovable. But with Beatrice’s we are also given some serious elements as she has just lost the ‘most perfect’ sister-in-law.

It is Owen that steals the show for me. Her role as Robert is adorable as an over-active servant and then she switches roles to ‘Ben’, which is very captivating even to the little hand movements.

Within Maxim De Winter (Tristan Sturrock) and Mrs De Winter (Imogen Sage) as well as the first Mrs De Winters maid Mrs Danvers (Emily Raymond) we are given the dark side of the play.  The new Mrs De Winter is quite a timid soul thrown into a very lavish lifestyle where she simply cannot fit in but captures Maxim’s heart for being so different to Rebecca. Though as she tries to find out more about Rebecca it is through the very stern one-dimensional Mrs Danvers that Maxim’s new world comes crashing down and secrets unfold, as she manipulates his new Mrs De Winter. All three are very convincing in these roles, even when Mrs De Winter ‘funny young, lost look’ disappears.

Quite cleverly with a nod to Emma Rice, director, song and dance help this play from being too dark and the Kneehigh Theatre Group literally set the walls of Manderley on fire and capture this ‘study of jealousy’ in all it’s forms that actually makes me go back on my word of judging a book by its cover!

This review was written by Victoria Ling  for Jowheretogo PR ( Follow Victoria on twitter @LilVik or follow her photography on Facebook (

Victoria Ling


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