Patrick Hamilton’s original 1930s British suspense drama “Gas Light”, has had many reincarnations, on the stage in London and Broadway, in films of the same name in both the UK and USA in the 1940s, where they became classics. Ingrid Bergman won the 1944 Best Actress Academy Award for her role in “Gaslight”. It played on ABC radio in the 1950s. This play gave us the term “gaslighting”.
It has been again adapted, this time by Canada’s Johnna Wright and Patty Jamieson. This version premiered at Ontario’s Shaw Theatre in 2022.
Brisbane’s production is short, only two weeks. Then it heads off to Melbourne (March), Canberra (May), Perth (May – June), Newcastle (June), and Parramatta (June) before its last performance at the Roslyn Packer Theatre in Sydney 21 Aug to 15 September.
Tickets are still available but be quick. It’s a limited season and you won’t want to miss it.
The play addresses the personal dilemmas of a marriage that isn’t happy. How does one party reach out to others for help, or even should they? While it’s a period piece, set in the early 1900s, the theme is one families and governments struggle with today.
I met with Courtney Cavallaro during costume fittings at the Billie Brown theatre. A Brisbane girl, Courtney follows in the footsteps of Angela Lansbury whose first stage role was Nancy in the US film (starring Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman). Nancy is one of four characters in the 2024 production of “Gaslight”. Courtney plays Nancy as a character that brings the possibility of change to the marriage that seems stuck in the formalities of the past, formalities that make the wife, Bella, dumb in response to suspicion, but with no proof, that her husband Jack isn’t the loving man she married.
This play goes beyond the normal “settling in” to each other of all marriages. It strays into abnormal territory that has us on the edge of our seats. Nancy is the disruptor that is needed for resolution to happen.
Courtney brings to the role an insight that may shock the audience. This is a thriller. Be prepared to be confused, to distrust your senses, and to be deeply moved.
In playing Nancy, Courtney has the challenges of playing in period costume in an accent from the streets of London. As an actress in the 2020’s, Courtney must master accents. If a film is to sell in the US, she needs to produce an “American accent”. But, in this production, it’s a Cockney one. Courtney inhabits Nancy as she works with the other members of cast (Geraldine Hakewill, Toby Schmitz and Kate Fitzpatrick) to bring together a story that is spellbinding.
Courtney is a northside girl. She attended Kelvin Grove State High School. Then she went to Perth where she successfully completed the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts degree, winning recognition for her work.
A committed professional actor, Courtney Cavallaro is a rising star in Australian theatre and film. Catch her in the role of Nancy in “Gaslight” while tickets are still available.
“Gaslight” is playing at the Queensland Theatre Company’s Billie Brown theatre between 20 February and 3rd March.