Review: My Cousin Rachel at the Cambridge Arts Theatre
The play, based on the novel by Daphne du Maurier, stars Helen George of Call the Midwife fame.
The story deals with the arrival of the alluring and exotic - and rather mysterious - Countess Rachel Sangalletti (George) at the Ashley Estate in Cornwall.
Having travelled from Florence, the home of her recently deceased husband, Rachel's presence in the house completely changes the pre-existing dynamic and arouses dark suspicions and uncontrollable desires - not least in young Philip, cousin and heir to the Ashley home.
Feverish passion battles reason in this classic Gothic romance set in the wild rock-strewn landscape of the Cornish coast.
It has to be said that this wild landscape - and indeed the grandeur of this vast country home - are beautifully recreated using an impressive revolving set, eerie sound effects and just the right amount of on-stage 'mist and fog'.
The scene is perfectly set out - there are no curtains involved - allowing the audience to fully take in the Cornish ambience before the actors come out on stage.
Rachel's arrival adds a splash of colour to the fairly dour and slow-moving proceedings - both in terms of personality and in the clothes she wears - and she is well portrayed by Helen George, who is almost unrecognisable from her role as Trixie Franklin in Call the Midwife.
Elsewhere, understudy Andy Hawthorne did a good job as Nicholas Kendall, in place of the absent Simon Shepherd, Jack Holden was convincing as the somewhat naiive Philip - eliciting a fair amount of sympathy - and I especially enjoyed Sean Murray as trusted family retainer, John Seecombe.
The play is well worth a watch, although overall I didn't find it quite as emotionally compelling as other plays I've seen at the Arts Theatre.
My Cousin Rachel is on until this Saturday (January 18).
The play starts at 7.45pm, with 2.30pm matinee performances on Thursday and Saturday.
More by this authorAdrian Peel