Patrick Hamiltons 1944 potboiler (originally Angel Street) continues to be one of the most revived theatrical chestnuts because its melodrama is so unapologetically intense. In an unfashionable section of late-Victorian London, our heroine, Mrs. Manningham (Corrine Shor), is tormented by demons of insanity and the cruel taunting of her domineering husband (John Cygan). Additionally the master is sensually attentive to the young, buxom maid (Emily Bridges) or is his preoccupation only a figment of the Mrs. imagination? Jeff G. Racks lavishly detailed burgundy set, with perfect gaslight effects by lighting designer Yancey Dunham, creates the ideal atmosphere for the dripping suspense. The actors, under Charlie Mounts austere direction, commit fully to the chilling revelations as we move slowly toward a known outcome. Don Moss is particularly delightful as a hard-bitten Scotland Yard detective, even though he joined the production late in rehearsals and was still a bit shaky on his lines at the performance I saw. Likewise the maid (in a fine performance by Mary Garripoli), whose role is small but comic, turns into a tense ally of the oppressed Mrs. M. Costumes by Valentino round out this very satisfying production. Theatre West, 3333 Cahuenga Blvd. West, L.A.; opens Aug. 28; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; through September 27. (323) 851-7977.
Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Starts: Aug. 28. Continues through Sept. 27, 2009