Rebecca ★★★ Charing Cross Theatre | Sep 4 - Nov 18, 2023

Premiering in Vienna in 2006, Rebecca, the musical, which is based on Daphne du Maurier's Gothic tale, has been performed in twelve countries and viewed by over twenty-one million people worldwide. The show is still running in Vienna and the Korean production garnered several awards. Unfortunately, the scaled down version at the Charing Cross Theatre probably doesn't do this international hit justice. Du Maurier's story certainly offers the opportunity for some spectacular effects, but in this production it all seems rather ho-hum. The opulence and mystery of Manderley is missing and the foggy beach scene borders on embarrassing. Those looking for the atmosphere and dark allure of Du Maurier's book, or Hitchcock's film, will be disappointed, but Michael Kunze and Sylvester Levay's score has some real highlights. The wistful "Last Night I dreamt of Manderley" is quite haunting and the powerful "Rebecca" is a genuine showstopper. For us, the progression of the relationship between the brooding Maxim de Winter (Richard Carson) and his second wife (Lauren Jones) seemed rather underdeveloped. Jones had the timidity down, but we didn't see the beguiling charm that might have attracted De Winter after the problematic nature of his marriage to Rebecca. However, things really heat up when they return to Manderley and Kara Lane's malevolent Mrs Danvers comes on the scene. Lane has a scene-stealer of a role and she makes the most of it. This Rebecca has much to recommend it, with some terrific music and a book that respects the original novel, but to introduce the show to London audiences, it might have been better to go with a concert version. One of the issues facing the second Mrs de Winter is her overly vivid imagination, but this production might have worked better if the audience's imagination had been engaged more.

Rated: ★★★

Reviewed by J.C.
Photo by Mark Senior

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