Women are greedy and tempting, using their feminine wiles to their every advantage according to “My Cousin Rachel,” an adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s novel by the same name. The beguiling cousin, Rachel, perpetuates every negative female stereotype in an exploration of a sexist, misogynistic society. Her words “I am a woman so I will always be a servant” still has an element of truth applicable to us, even 70 years on from the 1951 publication of the novel.


The story revolves around the mystery surrounding the death of Ambrose, whose widowed wife returns from Italy to stay with Ambrose’s sole heir, Philip, who is highly suspicious of her having received letters from Ambrose that he has been poisoned. Philip quickly becomes infatuated with her and wishes to hand over his estate; however, throughout there is a suspicion that Rachel had ulterior motives in the form of chasing money.


Unfortunately the two main characters, Rachel and Philip, do not appear to have the irresistible chemistry needed to make Philip’s frustratingly badly thought out decisions believable. Despite this, Rachel, played by Helen George known for her role in “Call the Midwife” was beautifully charming and suspicious, while the wide eyed naivety of Philip, played by Jack Holden was endearing and frustrating, due the the rather predictable storyline, with him falling for her as her morality is being questioned.


All the supporting characters were well done, with Aruhan Galieva as Louise providing a clear headed constant throughout the play. She provided some moments of comic relief, as did Simon Shepherd as her father Nicholas, who is the lawyer in charge of Ambrose’s will, humorously stating that with the generous allowance given to Rachel, he “wished he had married the man instead.” The initial portrayal of Louise and Philip did leave one hoping that they would end up together, though the arrival of Rachel and the predictable course the Philip’s feelings would take quickly crushed that notion.


The set was cleverly designed and visually pleasing, with a rotating staircase setup that maximised the amount of space and minimised disruption, as different part of the staircase doubled as different locations. The sound and lighting were used occasionally slightly too forebodingly, as it occasionally gave the impression of a spooky horror movie instead of a country house drama. 


The play closed with an ambiguous ending as we remain unsure about Rachel’s character and if she was truly complicit in a murder. Overall this amusing play is an enjoyable watch despite any small difficulties it may have had, having also been cancelled this Monday due to technical difficulties. We are left with a sense of dissatisfaction as the problem the whole play was building up towards was not resolved, and we think that Rachel may have even tried to poison Philip. It provides an interesting view on how society can view women, especially the rumours surrounding the “beautiful women” which cannot be escaped.