Before there was “catfishing,” there was “gaslighting.”
The phrase, which means to cause someone to doubt their own sanity by feeding them false information, comes from the movie “Gaslight.” That, in turn, is based on the 1938 play “Angel Street” by Patrick Hamilton.
You can see it for yourself when the Albright Theatre in Batavia presents “Angel Street” Nov. 1 through 16 at the Albright Theatre on the third floor of the Batavia Government Building. Performances are at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and at 2 p.m. Sundays.
Janette Spink and Mitch Jacobs, both of Elgin, are co-directing the Victorian-era thriller.
“The play went over so big … back in the ‘30s when it came out, that they made the movie ‘Gaslight’ that had Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyer in it,” Spink said. “There also is a British version because during the war they couldn’t ship our version over to England, so England made their own version.
“It’s a cool movie. As a kid, I used to watch it with my mom. And when I found out ‘Angel Street’ was ‘Gaslight,’ I said, ‘I’m going to put in to direct that.’ And now I love the play even more than I ever liked the movie.”
The plot centers on the Manninghams, a family that lives in a lower-middle class London neighborhood. Jack Manningham, however, has a sinister plot afoot to drive his wife Bella mad. Enter Inspector Rough, who is following a lead on a murder committed 15 years ago in the Manningham home. He’s convinced that Jack Manningham is the culprit.
“The play is mysterious,” she said. “It has murder, intrigue and insanity. It’s how the whole thing is intertwined — the characters are very interesting people and you don’t quite know through the majority of the show who’s the bad person and who’s not. It keeps you on edge. And the hero is kind of the Inspector. Instead of being the typical white-knight hero who comes in and saves the day, he’s kind of a quirky, odd little guy.”
Her cast is doing well with the material, she said, picking up the speech and mannerisms of the day.
“The language is so difficult, but they are working so hard on it and bringing these characters to life,” she said.
Audiences probably haven’t heard of this story, and she’s excited to bring it to the new generation.
“In movies today, everything is thrust at you and blowing up around you,” she said. “This is so subtle, and it’s going to make people think and put them in the mode of trying to figure out who is the bad guy and is Bella really crazy and who’s the murderer from the past. I think they will be captivated by it.”