BWW Reviews: Dublin's Gate Theatre Presents MY COUSIN RACHEL at the Spoleto Festival

BWW Reviews:  Dublin's Gate Theatre Presents MY COUSIN RACHEL at the Spoleto Festival

At the Spoleto Festival in Charleston, Dublin's award-winning Gate Theatre presents a sleek and stylish rendering of Daphne DuMaurier's MY COUSIN RACHEL. Currently playing at the historic Dock Street Theatre, the suspenseful melodrama centers on a young man, Philip Ashley, who suspects his guardian's widow of involvement in her late husband's death. As Philip struggles to learn the truth, he finds himself falling under the spell of Rachel, his beautiful suspect.

Playing the protagonist of this taut drama, Fra Fee portrays Philip's tormented journey through desire, guilt and suspicion with keen sensitivity and detail. His tour de force performance demonstrates immense emotional range and admirable control.

In the titular role of Rachel, Tony-nominee Hannah Yelland embodies a tantalizing mixture of seductiveness and ambiguity. She never tips her hand, keeping the audience, and Philip, guessing about her true nature until the play's last moments.

The stellar supporting cast includes Stephen Brennan, John Croni, and Bosco Hogan as servants and neighbors whose loyalties are tested as they get pulled into the mystery. Bryan Murray plays an Italian lawyer from Rachel's past whose relationship with his client may be more than it seems. Amidst this near-flawless ensemble, Rachel Glesson gives a stand-out performance as Philip's rejected sweetheart.

With the exception of some slightly slow expository action early in the play, director Toby Frow maintains a tense dramatic pace. The stunning set by Francis O'Connor features long shuttered windows that are used as adjuncts to a clever lighting design by Mark Jonathan. O'Connor also designed the beautiful period costumes.

The production runs through June 8.

Photo Courtesy of Gate Theatre. Pictured: Hannah Yelland and Bryan Murray.

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Debra Charlton Debra Charlton is the author of Holistic Shakespeare: An Experiential Learning Approach (Intellect Books 2012). Her reviews and articles on Shakespeare training and performance have appeared in numerous publications. Most recently, her chapter on Sarah Bernhardt was published in Women in the Arts in the Belle Epoque (MacFarland 2012).

Debra Charlton received her Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin with a specialization in Shakespearean theatre.  She joined the faculty of Texas State University in 1999 where she served as Director of Graduate Studies in Theatre until 2013. At Texas State, she established and supervised the production dramaturgy program at Texas State, and founded a summer Shakespeare intensive in Stratford-upon-Avon, UK.

Dr. Charlton began her career as a professional actor at Houston’s Alley Theatre.  She has since directed many productions, including King Lear, The Taming of the Shrew, Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Blood Wedding, The Importance of Being Earnest, and The Winter’s Tale.   She has also worked as a production dramaturg on many plays, including Macbeth, Much Ado About Nothing, Measure for Measure, Twelfth Night, Oklahoma!, A Little Night Music, Arcadia, The Art of Dining, and The Learned Ladies.


 
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