REVIEW: Rebecca, Knee High Theatre, The Mayflower, Southampton, until Saturday, December 5.

A strange, strange evening, at times silly beyond belief, at times – increasingly towards the end – utterly compelling.


“Puppet direction” and “choreographer” are words just don’t want to see in a programme for a stage adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca. Nor do you want a Maxim de Winter who never seems to be more than a few minutes away from breaking into song or a rather demented butler who loves answering the phone and does an awful lot of strange dancing.

And yet, and yet…. whenever the actors let the story shine through, they show remarkable skills on the most remarkable of sets, part ancient pile, part beach, part everything they need it to be.

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It’s difficult to grasp just what Kneehigh Theatre think they’re adding with the drone-y folk song and a start to the second half which is frankly bizarre. There are times when it seems we’ve stumbled in on “Monty Python does Du Maurier”.

But despite the production and all its daftness, the company conjures something rather brilliant towards the end when they stand back and realise that everything they need is in the original.

At the heart of it all is a terrific performance from Imogen Sage as the second Mrs de Winter, a performance which grows impressively as the timid nobody becomes the lady of the manor; Emily Raymond glowers to good effect as Mrs Danvers.

There are fine performances elsewhere too – but goodness, the whole thing’s pitched as part panto, part Ripping Yarns and all but suffocates its own many virtues.

Phil Hewitt

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