WITH family like Rachel Ashley who needs enemies?
Twice widowed, My Cousin Rachel, is the main female character in Daphne du Maurier’s compelling story adapted for Saddleworth Players’ opening production of their 2019-20 season.Beguiling, bewitching and apparently scheming, Mrs Ashley arrives in Cornwall from Florence after the death of hubby numero due, Ambrose.
She instantly charms almost everyone she meets, including Ambrose’s wet behind the ears cousin.
Philip Ashley, poised to inherit the house and estate of Barton on his 25th birthday, falls under the newcomer’s spell, banishing initial suspicions she murdered Ambrose.
Losing his virginity to the alluring Rachel only increases his determination to become spouse number three – despite written warnings of his would-be bride’s darker side from Ambrose before his mysterious passing.
Besotted, Philip signs over the Barton pile and the family’s prized jewellery collection to Rachel who, despite the one-night stand, has no intention of walking up the aisle again.
Sam Reid plays drippy Phil as well as he portrayed naïve Benjamin Braddock in a former Players’ production of The Graduate.
He and Mann ensure this ‘did she, didn’t she’ lengthy tale keeps the audience on the edge of their new refurbished Millgate seats until a finale with a twist.
It certainly has one of those endings where you are supposed to make up your mind what exactly Mrs Ashley’s real intentions really were.
Decide for yourself as My Cousin Rachel, directed by Carol Davies, plays at the Millgate Theatre in Delph until Saturday, October 5.
Despite the pressure of opening night, increased by the presence of civic dignitaries to mark the theatre’s official opening after its summer long refurbishment, the seven strong cast coped well.
Kerry Ely, as Phil’s long-standing family friend, Louise Kendall, convincingly portrayed her scepticism and suspicions towards My Cousin Rachell.
Neil Bamford’s Seacombe – the Barton estate butler – and Mark Rosenthal’s Rainaldi – Mrs Ashley’s furtive but equally lovestruck confidante – produced noteworthy supporting roles.
Youngsters Max Fletcher and Stanley Millea appear in the production as servant boy James while Peter Fitton overcame several sticky moments to see through his part as Louise’s father, Nick Kendall.