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4 stars

This is a classic chiller thriller by Patrick Hamilton about a murderous husband who is trying to drive his wife insane.

It provides three juicy roles and all were enthusiastically taken by the Chase Theatre Company.

The lighting is crucial, with the dimming gas mantles indicting the comings and goings in the Victorian house which is home to the dastardly Jack Manningham and his gentle wife Bella. In this production they did exactly what was expected and help create the intense atmosphere of impending menace.

Real-life couple Clare and Barry Gollop worked excellently together as the Manninghams.

He rose to the challenge of the coolly controlling, and cruelly manipulative husband, calm and aloof yet showing his explosive tendency when under pressure.

And she handled the histrionics with skill, never falling into the trap of tipping the piece into melodrama.

Director Denis Steer played the retired detective Rough with amiable panache, giving the character a finely honed humour as well as authority, though just occasionally his delivery was a bit muffled.

Sarah Lazar brought out all the saucy insolence of maid Nancy - paid all of 10 a year! with Judy Abbott completing the cast as the staunchly loyal Elizabeth.

The period set looked good with its few well-chosen pieces of furniture.

Diana Eccleston