Alan Ayckbourn: Plays Directed

Gaslight (1961)

Production Details

New Play:


First performance:
Opening night:
Final performance:
Patrick Hamilton

Theatre in the Round at the Library Theatre
Concert Room, Scarborough Library

29 June 1961
29 June 1961
26 July 1961

Company Details

Alan Ayckbourn
Mrs Manningham
Mr Manningham
Hazel Burt
David Jarrett
Stanley Page
Rosamund Dickson
Philip Clifford


Gaslight marked the directorial debut of Alan Ayckbourn; at the time predominantly an actor who had also had three of his own plays produced by the company. From this point forward, playwriting and directing would begin to dominate his career in theatre.

Gaslight: Reviews

Gaslight marked Alan Ayckbourn's debut as a director and reproduced below are the only known reviews of the production (both articles are copyright of their respective publications).

Claustrophobic Immediacy Of 'Gaslight-in-the-Round'
Gaslight is the most familiar of the classic, well-made thrillers, but Gaslight in-the-Round gives a new dimension to one's experiences.
It lends the play a claustrophobic immediacy, drawing one in to feel freshly - however well one knows the play - the cosy, cushioned horror of the frightened wife, and to be trapped with her in the dm, heavily-furnished sitting-room while the gas flickers and the footsteps pass in the locked room upstairs.
Hazel Burt wisely mutes the hysteria of her early scenes as Mrs Manningham, and manages to suggest that behind her timidity and softness there lies a spirit that will rise convincingly to rebellion at the play's end. David Jarrett provides a cold, suave villain, and Stanley Page brings a happy touch of comedy to the ageing and fatherly detective. Rosamund Dickson's Nancy is an excellent study in off-hand impertinence.
The players are helped by a set redolent of late-Victorian material security, and this production, by Alan Ayckbourn, is polished, building with authority from its quiet opening to the chilling of spines as the tension mounts towards hysteria.
(The Stage, 13 July 1961)

Chilling Play In The Round
In a Victorian sitting-room a frightened wife sits alone waiting in fear and trembling for the moment when the gaslight will go dim and footsteps be heard above.
She has a strange and tyrannical husband, her maid treats her with insolence, and a strange but kindly man has burst into her home, filling her confused mind with suspicions.
This is the chilling atmosphere of
Gaslight, the play the Studio Theatre Company last night introduced to its repertoire of theatre-in-the-round in the Library Theatre.
Hazel Burt's hysteria and, at times, child-like joy in the part are effective contrast to the cold, villainous character of her husband, David Jarrett, in this first production by Alan Ayckbourn.
There are snatches of humour to break the tense hour-and-three-quarters of compelling drama, such as when Stanley Page, as the fatherly inspector, offers the wife a drop of the hard stuff to calm her nerves.
Rosamund Dickson, as the maid, and Philip Clifford, who appears for a brief moment, complete the cast.
(Scarborough Evening News, 30 June 1961)
All research for this page by Simon Murgatroyd. Image copyright: Scarborough Theatre Trust.