Not a story I was familiar with, when last week I was invited to watch it performed at a local theatre by Kneehigh Theatre Company. Now, if you have not come across Kneehigh before, which I have, they are worthy of a blog post all of their own. You know with Kneehigh to expect a performance of the highest quality, exhibiting great talent with boundless energy and power.
Rebecca did not disappoint on that score. Set against a spooky backdrop of the sunken ship and the imposing stairwell of Manderley there were rockets, there was dancing, there was love and there was loyal puppet dog. There were exceptional performances, there was music and singing – sea shanties that captured perfectly the presence of the sea and the underlying current of the story – and there was a sinister sense of unease throughout, as I would have expected after reading the book.
And read it I did, in a few short sessions during lunch breaks, on the bus, and an hour the evening before the play so that I could finish the story in its original form before seeing any adaptations. I read Jamaica Inn at school but sadly I think that is the only Daphne du Maurier book (except now for Rebecca) that I have read. This needs to be remedied!
What a book. Haunting, yes. Sad, yes. Powerful, yes. The sort of suspense tale that needs to be told. Perfect for a cold evening when the wind outside howls in time, and the fire crackles… When the last bubbles fizz through the champagne, and shadows flicker in the doorway behind you, the stories of Manderley and of Mrs. De Winter, past and present, are told, from the hopeful, if unusual start of true love, to an ending that raises chills.
Rebecca will now find place among my favourite books – those that I will admire and enjoy over again. It is a story of perfection, and a perfectly formed story. “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” And again I shall.