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

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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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From This Author 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 (read more...)