There can have been few members of the large first-night audience waiting before the impressive, if somewhat curiously sinister-looking set, who did not have some doubt about how this well known Daphne Du Maurier study of jealousy was going to unfold on the stage before them.  But within minutes all concerns were set aside as they were transported to the coast of Cornwall with this clever adaptation which offered everything the 21st Century theatre-goer might expect: from the infamous opening line, “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again…”, the lowering of a woman’s body and boat watched by sailors in sou’westers singing seas shanties, to excellent live on-stage music, clever improvisation and puppetry – who can forget Jasper the dog with his amazingly life-like actions and his embarrassing obsession with certain parts of the human anatomy and the worryingly menacing birds.  These all added to the clever mix.

Throughout, Du Maurier’s tale was embellished with moments of comedy – the telephone conversations when the young servant Robert (played so convincingly by the diminutive Katy Owen) was overly frank about his mother’s menopausal issues certainly seemed to resonate with some of the female members of the Eastbourne audience sitting in the stalls!

It was, therefore, with eager anticipation that the Friends gathered in the bar after the show to welcome this multi-talented, eleven-strong cast.

Back (l-r):Samuel Martin, Tristan Sturrock, Richard Clews
Middle: Robert Burgess, Imogen Sage, Ewan Wardrop, Lizzie Winkler
Front: Andy Williams, Katy Owen

It was a happy occasion and rarely has a cast been so willing to give so much of their time and animated conversations flowed.  One female cast member, who had entertained us on stage with her belly dancing, even admitted that she had taken a dip in the sea that afternoon!  And Tristan Sturrock – true to his Cornish roots – can currently be seen on our television screens on Sunday evenings as Zacky Martin in Poldark.  Although he did mention that he is unrecogniseable with lots of hair and bushy beard – a far cry from the suave Maxim de Winter!

The audiences for the rest of the week are due for a treat!