Robert Jones’ design - or rather the substantial absence thereof - dominates a production, directed by Patrick Mason, which highlights the triangular relationship between Rebecca, the new Mrs De Winter and the rambling old house of Manderley. Just as Rebecca is brought to life by intelligently worked non-conversations between Elisabeth Dermot-Walsh, as the new Mrs De Winter, and the various servants and hangers on at Manderley, so the house itself is given breadth by appearing only in the imaginations of the audience.
Which leaves Dermot-Walsh to ensure that the whole production has clarity and shape. While she does not give Mrs De Winter enough of an edge as she moves from victim to winner, she does use her pivotal role well to heighten the air of menace which Frank McGuinness has brought from the original novel. She is not much helped by her co-leads, however. Maureen Beattie is clearly the embodiment of Manderley, but she never succeeds in exuding the menace which the part promises. Nigel Havers does enough to make his Maxim De Winter insipid, but no more. And his final revelations are rushed and unconvincing.
Rather more effort goes into the supporting roles. Margaret Robertson finds the humour in the roles of Mrs Van Hopper and the De Winters’ grandmother. So, on the surface, does Amanda Waldy as Maxim’s sister, Beatrice. But she does enough to keep the tension building, as does John Nicholas who is an excellent retainer, Frith, and Gregor Henderson-Begg as Ben, the strange boy on the seashore.