This performance of Daphne du Maurier’s novel, adapted & directed by Emma Rice was expectedly very different. She & the players in the Cornish Kneehigh Theatre Company have earned a reputation for finding fresh & stimulating ways to interpret old stories.
The play opens with the words of the 2nd Mrs. De Winter “Last night I dreamed I went to Manderley again” delivered in a strangely distant voice as fog adds to the atmosphere around the house & the rugged shoreline. The rocks come alive, sailors sing their shanties & we are sat in a dreamlike Cornwall full of magic, mystery & myth, so real you can almost smell the seaweed. A surprise sand dance, the absurd but inspired antics of the effervescent Katy Owen, as a comic footman, & the unseemly behaviour of the puppet-dog Jasper really have nothing to do with the original novel, but they are very much in the spirit of this company’s joyful anarchy.
Indeed all the Kneehigh players seem to be not just excellent actors , but musicians, dancers, comics, & puppeteers too as they introduce joy & humour, alongside pathos & tragedy, to this classic study of jealousy.
This is Rebecca with a 21st century Kneehigh twist, retaining all of Rebecca’s devastating, triumphant power yet allowing the new Mrs.de Winter to become a force to be reckoned with.
A truly amazing production appreciated by almost all 53 STG attendees!
Quite coincidentally the day after our visit it was announced that Emma Rice would be the new Artistic Director of the Globe Theatre in London commencing in April 2016.