Patrick Hamilton’s “Gaslight” adapted by Canada’s Johnna Wright and Patty Jamieson, is presented by the Queensland Theatre Company at the Playhouse Theatre, QPAC until 3 March 2024

Cast members and creatives Geraldine Hakewill, Joanna Wright, Patty Jamieson and Toby Schmitz

The play opened on February 22 to a packed and enthusiastic audience. The actors received a well-deserved standing ovation.

Patrick Hamilton’s original 1938 play “Gas Light” was a dark thriller that gave us the 2022 word of the year “Gaslighting”. This production stays within the genre and maintains the tension throughout. Lee Lewis’ direction was superb. It was portrayed by professional and experienced actors who brought a tightness to the play that lasted until the last moment. There was no moment to turn away, or to allow one’s mind to wander. This is one of the best QTC plays I’ve seen in years. It will sink deeply into your psyche.

Bella, played by Geraldine Hakewill, was young, loving, loyal and open with her husband throughout, despite the uncertainties generated. Geraldine presented us with young love, that intoxicating mix of happiness and hope for the future that is based upon a romantic first meeting and with it, the joy of connection with another human being.

Toby Schmitz as Jack was the concerned and responsible husband, doing the best he could to protect his wife and save her from social opprobrium. His well-run household provided a safe place to heal and grow. His concern for his wife echoed throughout the play, in his dialogue with her, and with the servants aimed at ensuring her welfare.

Elizabeth, Kate Fitzpatrick, as the housekeeper drew the threads together. It was she who held the uncertainty in place, loyally “doing her best” with both husband and wife, and Nancy, the new maid.

Courtney Cavallaro played Nancy, a character explosive in her insolence and cathartic in her straight talking about what she sees in the household and how she ensures her own good fortune.

Everyone was looking after their own hopes and dreams, all nicely presented as concern for one another. That they all shattered in the end was the highlight of the play.

Come and see it. It will reward you.

The stage setting and costumes, by Renee Mulder, were the best seen for many years. The set was solid, reliable, artistic and multi-layered. And it was the setting that held the mystery of the play itself. Upstairs and down, front and back doors, the staircase, the gaslights going up and down and the outside world intruding through the windows all supported the cast to bring the suspense to its remarkable conclusion.

The costumes were magnificent, drawing the audience in to a careful consideration of the characters.

Paul Jackson’s lighting was like fine lace, wrapping the characters in their daily lives, and providing transitions from morning to afternoon to evening to night.

The rhythm never let up. I’m sure Patrick Hamilton would be delighted with the adaptation. And a 2024 audience, well versed in the meaning of the term “gaslighting” will be enchanted by such a lesson in its origins.

Everyone will go away from this production satisfied, mystified and a little unsettled.

A job well done! Highly recommended.

The Brisbane season from 20 Feb to 3 March is only the start of the Australian Tour. Catch it if you can locally. See:

If you miss out, book tickets in Melbourne, Canberra, Perth, Newcastle, Parramatta and Sydney. But be fast. Shows are already sold out.

Kerry McGovern