Mortimer Dramatic Society 2018
First performed in 1938 the play takes us back to the fog-bound London of the 1880’s. Set in the upper middle class home of Jack Manningham and his wife Bella the action begins in the late afternoon; a time which the author notes as being "before the feeble dawn of gaslight and tea". Bella is perturbed by the strange and inexplicable goings on in the house. Her husband’s unexplained and mysterious disappearances only add to her anxiety, which is made worse when he refuses to tell he where he is going. As the drama unfolds it becomes clear that Manningham is intent on convincing Bella that she is going insane, even to the point of making her believe that she is imagining the frequent dimming of the gaslight in the house.
Bella is put under further pressure with the appearance of a police detective who claims that it is her husband who is responsible for her torment and who has a secret and sinister motive for his actions.
This gripping drama had an initial successful six month sell-out run in the West End’s Apollo Theatre before transferring to Broadway (where it was re-titled “Angel Street”). Angel Street was also a hit in its Broadway premiere, and it remains one of the longest-running non-musicals in Broadway history, with 1,295 total performances and has gone on to be revived both in West End and on Broadway. The play was adapted for film twice: The 1940 British film Gaslight, directed by Thorold Dickinson and the 1944 American film of the same name, directed by George Cukor. When the British film version was released in America, it was again re-titled Angel Street, to avoid confusion with the American film.
By Patrick Hamilton