Gregory Boyd, Artistic Director
Paul R. Tetrault, Managing Director



A Thriller by Patrick Hamilton

Shelley Williams (foreground) plays Bella Manningham in Angel Street. This classic, set in Victorian London, tell of the diabolic tale of Mr. Jack Manningham (played by John Feltch, background) who embarks on a treacherous scheme to drive his well-to-do wife Bella insane. Photo by T. Charles Erickson.

Directed by Gregory Boyd


Mrs. Manningham.......................Shelley Williams
Mr. Manningham.........................John Feltch
Elizabeth.....................................Bettye Fitzpatrick
Nancy.........................................Amy Elizabeth McKenna
Rough.........................................Ross Bickell

The entire action of the play occurs in a house in Angel Street, located in the Pimlico district of Victorian London.


Patrick Hamilton

Patrick Hamilton (1904 - 1962) began his association with the theatre in 1921 appearing on the British stage at the age of seventeen. In 1928, he made his reputation as a writer with his novel Twopence Coloured, which explored the world of the English theatre. By 1929, Hamilton had completed and published his first full-length play, Rope. The play, which told the tale of two Oxford students who commit a murder for thrills, appeared at the time of the eerily similar Leopole-Loeb murder case in Chicago. Rope was later filmed by Alfred Hitchcock in 1948, starring James Stewart and Farley Granger.

Orignally titled Gaslight, Angel Street premiered in England in 1938 to critical acclaim. In America, after disappointing West Coast tryouts, Broadway producers were pessimistic about the play's potential for success; tickets were only printed for opening night and two performances the following Saturday. Against all odds, with Vincent Price as Mr. Manningham and Judith Evelyn as Bella Manningham, Angel Street opened on Broadway on December 5, 1941, two days before the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Audiences would attend the 1,295 performances of Patrick Hamilton's play over the next four years, making Angel Street one of the longest running non-musical plays in Broadway history.

In 1939 a film adaptation of the play, titled The Murder in Thornton Square, was made in England, but MGM bought all the prints and destroyed the negatives before producing its own more opulent Hollywood version, Gaslight (1944), with Ingrid Bergman in an Oscar-winning performance as Paula Anton (Bella Manningham) and Charles Boyer as Gregory Anton (Mr. Manningham). Gaslight differed greatly from Hamilton's original stage play. Aside from renaming Hamilton's characters, adding new characters and liberally changing character backgrounds and motivations, Gaslight was essentially a star vehicle for Bergman and, in true Hollywood fashion, gratuitously invented romantic situations wherever possible.

Hamilton's other plays include The Procurator of Judea (1930), John Brown's Body (1931), the Duke and the Duchess (1942), and The Governess (1945). Novels by Patrick Hamilton include The Midnight Bell (1929), The Siege of Pleasure (1932), a trilogy entitled 20,000 Streets Under the Sky (1935), and Hangover Square (1941), which was adapted into the popular film starring George Sanders and Linda Darnell.

Of Hamilton's work, Angel Street stands out as his greatest achievement. When Hamilton died in 1962, the papers reported: "For more than thirty years Patrick Hamilton raised goose pimples on millions of theatregoers, and his plays are likely to continue to do so as long as thriller melodramas remain popular." In 1971 Angel Street was named one of the "Best Mystery and Suspense Plays of the Modern Theatre" and continues to delight audiences as a masterwork of the genre.


In Patrick Hamilton's thriller Angel Street, Jack Manningham (John Feltch) embarks on a treacherous scheme to drive his well-to-do wife Bella insane. The Manningham's maid Nancy (Amy Elizabeth McKenna) becomes a pawn in his game. Photo by T. Charles Erickson.

A Review of the Mystery Thriller ANGEL STREET

by Tara Imani

January, 1998

When I got the opportunity to review a play at the Alley Theatre and was asked if I'd like to go, of course, I jumped at the chance. After all, I'd been couped up in the office all week, missing deadlines and watching the stacks of papers pile up.

And, yes, I'd fallen into the rut of going to the cinema week after week. I thought it would be a nice break from the stacks of half-finished projects in the office and a chance to get out of the cinema rut. What a truly enjoyable experience it was to find parking, quick and easy, and to explore the beautifully designed Alley Theatre. Moving through the diverse crowd during intermission, I felt intellectual excitement and pure pleasure of participating in one of Houston's rich cultural experiences.

The dark side of Victorian England is the backdrop of playwright Patrick Hamilton's Angel Street, a suspense thriller that first premiered in England in 1938. The deep rich decor of a Victorian home (the hauntingly elegant parlor of the Manningham residence in the Pimlico district of England) sets the stage for secret lust and a young wife's ultimate despair.

Brilliant performances delivered by the cast combined with clever dialogue and refinement bring this intriguing mystery to life, entertaining the audience with a gamut of emotions ranging from disbelief, anger, humor and triumph.

A virile John Feltch plays the dashing Mr. Manningham opposite the fair-skinned beauty of Shelley Williams, who plays Mrs. Manningham. Both are veteran actors of the Alley Theatre.

True motives are wittingly revealed by a cunning sleuth, named Rough, wonderfully portrayed by newcomer Ross Bickell. He unveils the hidden truth with the help of the lusty maid girl played by the gorgeous-in-real-life Amy Elizabeth McKenna. The wise old maid played by the lovely Bettye Fitzpatrick rounds out the cast. Clever performances and subtle dialogue combine to fill the audience with intrigue, innuendo and suspense.

Angel Street is a "must-see" on the Houston's live theatre scene. Explore the dark side of Victorian England and admire the hauntingly elegant parlour, decorated in rich, deep burgundy and forest green, and feel the intrigue of this intimate performance. This mystery-thriller runs from January 9 through February 7, 1998. Just as hidden from broad view as Mrs. Manningham's much sought after rubies, the Alley Theatre's Production of Angel Street could well be one of Houston's best kept secrets.

In Patrick Hamilton's thriller Angel Street, Jack Manningham (John Feltch) embarks on a treacherous scheme to drive his well-to-do wife Bella (Shelley Williams, right) insane. The Manningham's maid Nancy (Amy Elizabeth McKenna, center) becomes a pawn in his game. Photo by T. Charles Erickson.