Suspense is a common element in films and television. What happens next? One of the most famous Hollywood suspense films is Gaslight, directed by George Cukor and released in 1944. It was based on the original 1940 British film of the same name, adapted from Patrick Hamilton’s play Angel Street.
The American version starred Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman in the leading roles with support from Angela Lansbury (making her U.S. film debut), Joseph Cotton, and Dame May Whitty. Bergman won the Academy Award for her performance, and Boyer and Lansbury also received nominations. It also won the Award for Best Art Direction. Additional nominations for the film included Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Cinematography.
After its 1938 debut in England, Angel Street opened on Broadway in 1941 and played for over 1700 performances.
The difference in the medium makes all of the difference in the world. A stage play depends on a combination of character and mood to create a feeling of suspense for the audience. If everything is working the way it should, the audience should have an even greater feeling of “what happens next” than it does in a movie theater or at home in the living room.
The play, in substance, is the same story as presented in the film. However the time element is compressed into one day. It also retains the Victorian time period.
I enjoy the challenge of doing a play like Angel Street. Working with a small cast always gives me the opportunity to work more closely with the actors. Together we can create an atmosphere that will keep the audience in suspense until the very last moment.
Certainly I hope to cast actors with some experience, and it is important that those who plan to audition are familiar with using a British accent. It will help you to watch the film version of the play, both the American and English versions are available on DVD.
Angel Street – July, 2013 – is a great opportunity for us technically and creatively. I hope you plan on joining us to find out – what happens next!
Jack Randall Earles