Gaslight, Lyceum Theatre, Fbruary 20-25

Kara Tointon as Bella Manningham in Gaslight

Kara Tointon as Bella Manningham in Gaslight

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Gaslight is flickering on a woman living in terror.

EastEnders and The Halcyon star Kara Tointon takes on a classic role of a woman terrified by the strange happenings in her own home in this thriller.

It’s really interesting to see her question what’s real

Without giving too much away if you haven’t seen the play or the 1944 Hollywood film starring Ingrid Bergman, Charles Boyer, Joseph Cotten and Angela Lansbury in her screen debut, Kara plays a Victorian woman who falls prey to terrible fears.

Her character, Bella Manningham, is left alone every night while her husband Jack is out on the town.

She can’t explain the disappearance of familiar objects, the mysterious footsteps overhead or the ghostly flickering of the living room gaslight.

Does the terror exist in her imagination or are dark secrets living in her home?

The surprise arrival of retired Detective Rough leads to a shocking discovery that will shake her respectable Victorian marriage to its core.

Kara said: “It’s really exciting doing this play. Patrick Hamilton wrote it in 1938 but it’s set in 1880 and that’s why I like it, because it’s a little bit different.

“It’s not your normal whodunnit, it’s such a black thriller and even though it’s a period piece it’s very contemporary in feel. I want to make it very relatable.

“The phrase ‘gaslighting’ originates from the play and it’s an interesting subject. Patrick Hamilton is very good at creating suspense and it’s one of the bigger thrillers out there.”

Kara added: “She we open, you really feel you are looking in on a very comfortable couple in their home. It’s very idealistic in the initial stages.

“She’s such a great character and I really like Bella, she is well balanced and really strong and loves life.

“It’s really interesting to see her question what’s real and what’s happening. As an audience member, you’re not sure which way it’s going.”

Tara said the plot was full of twists and turns which will keep the audience guessing. “As an actor, you have to keep asking the questions and it’s better for that. It’s why I love theatre, you get to have that rehearsal time and learn about the history of the time that the play’s set in.”

The 2010 Strictly Come Dancing winner has done a lot of TV work but also spent three years just performing in theatre.

She said: “When I started auditioning aged 11, I always got sent for all the TV stuff. That door (to theatre) was closed for some reason.

“It’s only in the last seven years I’ve been doing theatre, and recently film. For the first time I’ve been able to mix it up, which is the ideal scenario.”

Kara added: “Filming is so odd. You are doing the story all out of order and you have to keep an eye on where you are in the process with the story.

“With theatre, you get to go every night from the beginning to the middle and the end. There’s also something especially about the live audience being an extra element.”

She’s in no hurry to go back to the role of Dawn Swann in Albert Square but, like a lot of soap actors, said: “You never say never to anything. Life throws up things and I never shut any doors.”

She added: “Some shows are 9 to 5 but personally for me ideally I like to do different role,s characters and voices. That’s what I enjoy about being an actor.”