Rebecca, Theatre Royal: Review

Kneehigh presents, Rebecca. Saturday 3rd September, 2015

For those who are unfamiliar with the 1938 novel by Daphne du Maurier, like I was when I booked to go and see this play, here is the basic premise:

Almost a year after the tragic death by drowning of his wife Rebecca, Maxim de Winter return to his stately home, Manderley, with his new bride. It is here that his new bride encounters the irreplaceable spirit of the deceased Rebecca as she lives on though the admiration of all whom she knew. Struggling to be accepted by those in her new surroundings, Mrs de Winter’s journey of acceptance begins to bring some once submerged truths to the surface.

I can safely presume that every seat in the theatre – from tops of the stalls to seats in the front row – everyone in attendance would be taken aback but the set.

The view is merely angular; the perception is consistently spectacular.

rebecca 1

Architectural features of a period manor, accentuated by and intriguing small boat as a centre piece. Everything that the play makes you feel is propelled in some small way by the stage. From the tensity fueled by a live music on stage left, through to comic protrusion of the actors through the middle of the set – all of the emotions is in part lent by the stage. And, what’s more, the performers moved effortlessly and poetically through the set. A sign of good direction and polished performances.

However, the adaptation of the play ended up going slightly left of centre in my opinion. Ultimately…

…the story was not a good adhesive for comedy.

I say that as a championing advocate for comedy as legitimately “good” theatre. Yes it made me crank an smile, yes the actress who played the Robert did was mildly humorous, but did I like it. No, not really. As someone who knows nothing of the original story. even I could tell that the adaptation was slightly a miss. A fact which ultimately cast a shadow of my overall view.


It did also seem like it was slightly Gatsby-inspired in parts of the production – the dancing scene particularly. Perhaps it was was just capitalising on the recent interest in 50’s nostalgia?

Would I recommend seeing it…?

Being totally honest, yes. Because as much as I don’t agree with the adaptation, the actual spectacle is a treat and who am I to deny you of that. Plus, reviews have divided opinion from what I have seen. And I think that is a good thing personally.

Verdict:2/5 (but do go and see it)

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