Patrick Hamilton’s Gaslight is currently being revived for a UK tour. The Victorian thriller opened last week at Birmingham’s New Alexandra Theatre and is now visiting venues across the UK. White Light was called upon to provide the lighting equipment for this production.
This latest revival of Gaslight stars Kara Tointon (Pygmalion, Mr Selfridge, EastEnders) and the lighting designer is the award-winning Howard Hudson. “Somewhat fittingly for this particular show, the actual gaslight used throughout plays an important role in the overall narrative,” says Hudson, “largely as it signals the movements of the main character as he journeys to the various spaces throughout the play. The conceit is that, as he turns up the gaslight to move around, the other lighting within the space dims. Therefore, achieving that genuine feel of gaslighting was vital for the piece.”
Howard experimented with various palettes to ensure that what he picked perfectly captured this feel. He comments, “When you actually see a gas lamp in operation, you’ll notice they emit a grey, almost dullish green glow. Therefore, we decided to use a colour palette with a slightly green tint.”
Alongside creating this gaslighting effect, Howard had to create a rig that was suitable for touring. To do this, he drew on a range of predominantly LED equipment taken from WL’s extensive inventory. This included ETC Source 4 Series 2 Lustrs, ETC Revolutions, a host of ETC Source Fours and an ETC Ion 1K Console.
Howard states, “The rig mostly consists of the Series 2 Lustrs, supplemented by Revolutions which allow a steeper overhead shot in restricted positions; offering vital flexibility in what can often be extremely tight spaces. The Lustrs were also able to do very subtle colour shifts throughout the play which you just wouldn’t be able to achieve with any other conventional unit. There are some strobed moments in the production which these were also hugely helpful with, being able to focus and colour the look of certain sections.”
As with any touring production, Howard not only had to create a tourable rig but also ensure that this worked alongside a tourable set. He comments, “The set designer David Woodhead designed a space with a flown ceiling piece so one of the biggest challenges was having to cross light the space in order to sculpt the company, but also contain the light to such a degree that the cast weren’t in competition with the scenery in what is a very confined space. That said, we addressed this several times in our pre-production meetings, meaning that when the set came, it was nicely broken down and suitably smoky.”
The play is currently playing at the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre before visiting Woking’s New Victoria Theatre, York’s Grand Opera House, Brighton’s Theatre Royal and Richmond Theatre.
Howard concludes, “I am really pleased with what we’ve managed to achieve on this show and how we’ve used contemporary equipment to create a very Victorian feel. I was lucky enough to work with a fantastic production electrician in Stu Meech and an equally brilliant programmer in Vic Brennan. I also want to thank WL for their support and providing such great equipment.”