I'VE seen Patrick Hamilton's Victorian play before and knew what was coming. However, that didn't stop me perching on the edge of my seat more than once, feeling as trapped as poor old Bella Manningham, a woman at her wit's end.
They say you only really know someone when you live with them. But for this tormented individual, her husband Jack, who takes an almost perverted pleasure in humiliating her, has become a closed book. No wonder Bella is going out of her mind, a virtual prisoner in a house which is as cosy as your average crypt. It's not only the house that has a past.
It's always exciting to see newcomers on the Garrick stage and after her performance asBella Parissa Zamanpour should be swamped with offers of future work. Attractive and elegant, hers is as an amateur performance only in name. Supremely convincing, you'll find yourself desperate for her to get one over on the horrendous Jack (Jonathan Black). But this is 1897, when many women still deferred to their husbands.
Mark Butt is a delight as Rough, a character with a very unique outlook on life who is very easy to warm to. His return to this theatre is very welcome, however, I can'treally go into detail about his character's role in the plot. Vicky Siddle impressed me when she appeared in another amateur production and does so again as the flirty maid Nancy, teasing Jack mercilessly.
Director Ros Greenwood ensures the tension bubbles along beautifully and I hope the full house on Monday night is repeated more than once throughout the run. A spooky classic.
* Until January 21. The box office is on 0161 928 1677. Star rating - ****