Set to be one of the most talked about performances of 2024, Gaslight, a modern adaptation of the 1940’s suspenseful thriller by Patrick Hamilton and starring Geraldine Hakewill, Toby Schmitz and Kate Fitzpatrick will open at Sydney’s Roslyn Packer Theatre in August. 

The highly-anticipated play, set in 1901 London, remains compellingly relevant in today’s society, as the original source of the term ‘gaslighting’. It is directed by highly-acclaimed Australian director Lee Lewis, and produced by Rodney Rigby for Newtheatricals (Come From Away, Jersey Boys, Good Night, Oscar on Broadway starring Tony Award winner Sean Hayes) and Queensland Theatre. 

Gaslight has been adapted by respected Canadian writer / performers Patty Jamieson and Johnna Wright and world premiered at the internationally renowned Shaw Festival in Canada in 2022. 

Gaslight opened its Australian tour in Brisbane in February to standing ovations and Melbourne’s Comedy Theatre last week. Following that, it will tour to Canberra Theatre Centre, Regal Theatre in Perth, Newcastle’s Civic Centre, Riverside Theatre in Parramatta before the final stop at the Roslyn Packer Theatre in Sydney.  

The season will mark the return to Sydney for producer Newtheatricals, who also produced  the award-winning Come From Away.

 “The audience reaction to Gaslight has been outstanding from both critics and audiences alike, braking box office records in our season in the Queensland season,” said producer Rodney Rigby. 

Actor Geraldine Hakewill is one of Australia’s best-known theatre and television performers. Graduating from WAAPA in 2008, she has since starred in Les Liaisons Dangereuses, Fury, Baal, The Real Thing, Disgraced, Chimerica and Julius Caesar for the Sydney Theatre Company, Peter Pan for Belvoir, which toured to New York, Tartuffe for Bell Shakespeare Company, The Rise and Fall of Little Voice for Darlinghurst Theatre Company, and Macbeth for Melbourne Theatre Company. 

Geraldine’s television credits include lead roles in Ms Fisher’s Modern Murder Mysteries, Wakefield and Wanted for which she was nominated for a TV Week Logie for Most Outstanding Newcomer.

Toby Schmitz is a respected writer, director and actor who was most recently seen on stage in Amadeus for Red Line opposite Michael Sheen. His other acting theatre credits include The Rover, Hamlet, The Wild Duck, Measure for Measure, Thyestes, Strange Interlude, Ruben Guthrie and Dance of Death for Belvoir, The Present, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Travesties, Hanging Man, Rabbit and The Great for STC, Wild and The Importance of Being Earnest for MTC, Much Ado About Nothing for Bell Shakespeare, The Boyce Trilogy for Griffin Theatre, Degenerate Art for Red Line, which he wrote and directed. Toby received Helpmann Award Nominations for his performances in Thyestes, Much Ado About Nothing and Ruben Guthrie, and Sydney Theatre Award Nominations for Howie The Rookie, The Great and Ruben Guthrie.

Perth-born, Adelaide-raised Kate Fitzpatrick is an actor and writer who has appeared in plays for just about every major theatre company in Australia as well as numerous TV and film productions. Her extensive theatre credits include: Arcadia (Queensland Theatre); The Recruiting Officer (Melbourne Theatre Company); Hamlet on Ice, Celluloid Heroes, The Ride Across Lake Constance, Shadows of Blood, Rooted, Beyond Mozambique, Kennedy’s Children and On the Shore of the Wide World (The Nimrod/Stables/Belvoir). 

She was Jenny Diver in Jim Sharman’s The Threepenny Opera, which opened the Sydney Opera House Drama Theatre, The Comedy of Errors, Don in Don Juan, Marguerite Gautier in The Lady of the Camelias, Marilyn Monroe in Insignificance (Playbox / Malthouse Theatre) and Mag in Big Toys, the play Patrick White wrote for her. Kate is also an accomplished writer, essayist and humourist, with four published books, including Namedropping and Airmail. In the summer of 1983-1984 she became the world’s first female cricket commentator on the Nine Network. Kate was also awarded the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Medal for services to the theatre. 

Bella Manningham is a young wife who seemingly has it all – a nice home and a comfortable upper-middle class life. Her housekeepers, Elizabeth and Nancy, attend to her and help run the household. Her husband, Jack, appears attentive and loving. So why is Bella on edge? As we learn more about the Manningham household, it becomes clear that something is amiss. 

Despite his doting appearance, Jack is hiding something – he keeps disappearing in the evenings …and after he leaves, Bella hears strange sounds in the house. The gas lights dim for no apparent reason. Is Bella losing her grip on reality? Or is something more sinister afoot?

A much-used word in modern society, ‘gaslighting’ — psychologically manipulating people into questioning their own sanity — draws its origins from the play, in which the household’s gas lights flicker and dim on the evenings when Bella is alone, causing her to question her own sanity.

The original playwright of Gaslight was also no stranger to difficult circumstances. Born in Sussex, England in 1904, Patrick Hamilton’s parents were writers. However, due to his father’s alcoholism and financial mismanagement, his family spent much of his youth in boarding houses. 

Gaslight – also known as Angel Street when it transferred to Broadway – was written during a particularly dark period in Hamilton’s life. Six years prior to its writing, Hamilton was hit by a drunk driver and dragged through the streets of London which left him with multiple disfiguring injuries. Two years later, his mother committed suicide. He suffered from depression and began drinking to deal with the symptoms of his illness. He died from cirrhosis of the liver and kidney failure in 1962, at the age of 58.

Despite all of this, two of Hamilton’s plays became extraordinarily successful. Alfred Hitchcock’s 1948 thriller Rope was based on Hamilton’s namesake play. The 1944 film of Gaslight starred a young Angela Lansbury and Ingrid Bergman who won an Academy Award for her performance. Angel Street was also a massive hit on Broadway and remains one of the longest-running non-musicals in Broadway history with 1,295 total performances.