Review: Female Gothic Ustinov Studio 7/10
ANYONE addicted to ghost stories, and tales of the supernatural will need no reminding that it was a woman, Mary Shelley, who wrote the all-time classic, Frankenstein.
Most people will be less aware that, during the late Victorian era, when stories of the supernatural were at the height of their popularity, 85 per cent of them were penned by ladies.
Three of them, Mary Elizabeth Braddon, best known for Lady Audley's Sexctret, Ellen Wood, the author of East Lynne and Egyptologist, and prolific writer, Amelia Edwards, were responsible for the three spin-chilling tales of the unexplained, and unexplainable, that Rebecca Vaughan so skilfully presented.
With a stage dressed in only a winged leather chair, and a candelabra containing three lit candles, which were in turn extinguished as each story reached its climax, plus the occasional sound effect, Vaughan conjured up dozens of untold horrors that lurk in the far reaches of all our minds.
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Director Guy Masterson blended the three stories together seamlessly – perhaps a little too seamlessly, in fact, as the emotions so stylishly presented following very similar patterns in all three stories.
Given the opportunity, I think Vaughan has many more weapons in her armoury waiting to be fired.
As it was, dressed in a beautiful, black Victorian dress, with not a single piece of jewellery, or anything of colour to break the image, she presented a woman as taught as the characters she presented; tense, with nerves strung to breaking point.
The fact that not a sound emanated from the audience during the hour and a quarter she stood alone on the stage, nor did they fidget through lack of interest, tells you that here was a player who had captured her audience and was as completely in control of them as she was of her never-faltering presentation.