Preview: Gaslight

A deserved second run of a brilliantly difficult play


Having already seen this play in its London run, I can assure you that it is not for the faint hearted. An extremely evocative and emotional play, it forces an element of introspection and empathy in a challenging manner. Be warned that this play contains themes of sexual assault, emotional/physical abuse, anxiety, depression, reference to addiction, and reference to suicide. Here’s a discussion with the cast and backstage members about what makes this play so unique:

What inspired you to write this play?

Gaslight originated as a therapeutic outlet, providing a creative space to amplify my voice following a personal experience of being victim of a sexual assault case. Initially conceived as a cathartic medium, the play evolved into an adaptation of my own journey, with the protagonist, Scarlet, embodying the challenges of my path toward healing. Beyond my individual experience, Gaslight addresses the pervasive nature of sexual assault, aiming to resonate with others who have faced similar traumas. In the current societal climate, the play seeks to spark vital conversations about the aftermath of such experiences. As Gaslight transcends personal storytelling, it becomes a powerful instrument for societal reflection. Through the medium of playwriting, it challenges silence surrounding sexual assault, aiming to raise awareness of the deep and lasting impact it leaves upon victims. Scarlet’s narrative, rooted in personal experience, becomes a universal testament to the strength of survivors and the urgent need for compassion and understanding. – Shaira Berg (Writer/Scarlet/Producer)

How does it feel to act in a play that you wrote? How is it different from acting in other plays?

Playing Scarlet has been a deeply rewarding, but also vulnerable experience. As the play is based on my experiences, I often found it difficult to compartmentalise the emotion evoked within her as the play progresses. Despite this, it has been cathartic to play her and express my feelings through something I consider to be one of my greatest passions and has allowed me to achieve a sense of closure for that chapter of my life. I hope that I am able to bring truth to her character and do her justice, playing her with a sensitivity and genuineness that allows relatability. Due to this, acting in Gaslight has been an incredibly unique, yet important experience for me in comparison to other projects. – Shaira Berg (Writer/Scarlet/Producer)

If you had to summarise in one or two sentences the message of this play, what would it be?

Look out for your friends – both to check in with them and their well-being, but also to call out their behaviour when you know they should be doing better. – Sarah Walton-Smith (Angela/Producer)

Look out for your friends. Photo Credits: Alessia Makavala

Why should people come to see the show?

Gaslight explores really important issues, that we think a lot of students will relate to and find some comfort in seeing them explored openly on stage. The characters are, of course, imperfect, but they are deeply human in their complexities and relationships with each other.  We think that everyone, regardless of their own experiences, can get something worthwhile out of watching Gaslight, and will thoroughly enjoy the production along the way. Despite its serious topic and absolutely gut-wrenching moments, this play is heartwarming and comforting where it needs to be. We really hope to see you there. – Ella Joralemon (Director)

What’s your favourite scene and/or line from the play?

My favourite line from the play is, “This isn’t a movie; we’re not banding together on some feminist crusade.” I love this line because it challenges the romanticised portrayal of achieving unrealistic justice often found in scripts dealing with similar themes. – Shaira Berg (Writer/Scarlet/Producer)

“I reckon I could get TikTok famous if I tried. Just need to make one of those videos reacting to stuff.” Not only a funny quote, this line is one of the small insights we get into the normal, goofy dynamics of this friendship group. – Ella Joralemon (Director)

“I just think you’re a bit obsessed. And he can tell.” Is my favourite line. This line just shows Angela’s hypocrisy so brilliantly as she is, who would have guessed, the one who is obsessed with everyone else in the group – Sarah Walton-Smith (Angela/Producer)

Angela (played by Sarah Walton-Smith). Photo Credits: Alessia Makavala

How has it been putting on two productions, one in London and one in Cambridge?

The main thing is that it’s been so much fun getting to perform Gaslight twice! I really wasn’t ready to let go of ‘Angela’ after our Camden run, and the opportunity to share such an important, powerful piece with a Cambridge audience is great. It’s been super exciting to have some new cast members and it’s been really rewarding to see Gaslight in a different light with different creative visions and character choices. So yeah, more excitement and no more difficulties than the usual Cambridge Theatre madness! – Sarah Walton-Smith (Angela/Producer)

So there you have it! I strongly encourage anyone and everyone to watch this play (read my 5/5 review below) – this show will be playing at Pembroke New Cellars at 7pm from 7-11th November, and tickets can be bought here.

Feature image credits: Alessia Makavala

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