Review: Gabriel at The Playhouse

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Paul McGann as Von Pfunz and Venice van Someren as Estelle in GABRIEL. © Robin Savage

Paul McGann as Von Pfunz and Venice van Someren as Estelle in Gabriel. Pic © Robin Savage

The scene for Gabriel is set the moment that you step foot into the auditorium – with the bellow of thunder and dark lighting set against a cloudy backdrop, you are instantly transported to a small house in Guernsey.

As the show starts, you are met by the young Estelle Bequet, played by Venice Van Someren, who instantly succeeds in capturing the innocence and animation of a child.

It is hard to believe that she is a fully-grown adult as she skips around the Everyman stage, talking in a shrill and child-like voice.

The on-stage relationship between her and her mother Jeanne is the most captivating throughout the show. It is as though you can see the years of growing and learning that the two have shared.

Jeanne Bequet, played by Belinda Lang, embarks on the biggest journey throughout the play, starting with an obvious dislike for her daughter in-law, but by the end the leading women have formed a special familial bond.

Paul McGann is utterly hypnotic in his role as a Nazi soldier. However, it is not just his flawless accent that draws your attention – he embodies the most complex role of the play. He is both a playful and engaging man, and a Nazi, hardened to the idea of taking a human life.

You find yourself sympathising with him and his attempts at a love life, before having to reign yourself in, reminding yourself of who he is and what he stands for. McGann gave a stand-out performance in this role.

Gabriel is filled with humour, which subtly lulls you into a false sense of security, leaving you utterly terrified when you see the characters that you have grown to love in a place of danger.

About Marcella Rick, JMU Journalism