By Richard Watson

We’ve all heard of gaslighting but have you ever wondered where the term comes from?

The phrase has really taken off in recent years, and ‘gaslighting’ was US dictionary Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Year in 2022.

Merriam-Webster define gaslighting as “psychological manipulation of a person usually over an extended period of time that causes the victim to question the validity of their own thoughts, perception of reality, or memories.”

It’s been used by patients to describe doctors ignoring or dismissing their symptoms, or to describe big corporations blaming customers for getting addicted to their products such as cigarettes, drink or social media.

Gaslighting also describes the behaviour in couples when an abusive partner tries to make the other doubt themselves or what they remember.

This June, the Huddersfield Thespians explore the Victorian origins of gaslighting when Patrick Hamilton’s tense thriller ‘Gaslight’ comes to the Lawrence Batley Theatre.

It’s 1880 and Bella Manningham’s on edge, especially about her husband’s frequent unexplained absences from the house.

Could the unexpected visitor Rough be right about Mr Manningham’s secret past?

Are there really noises overhead, or is Bella hearing things? Why do the gaslights keep flickering?

Why can’t she believe her husband when he says she’s worrying over nothing?



In an age of #MeToo, toxic masculinity and fake news, this Victorian thriller still has plenty to say to a modern audience.

Written in the 1930s, Hamilton’s play dives deep into psychological manipulation and the dark heart of human nature. There have been two film adaptations – a British one in 1940 and an American one starring Ingrid Bergman in 1944.

For this production, the Thespians welcome back some familiar faces. Playing Bella, Poppy Stahelin returns to the stage after starring in ‘The Thrill of Love’ as Ruth Ellis, the last woman to be hanged in Britain.

The Thespians also welcome back Gareth Dickinson playing Bella’s husband, fresh from terrifying Huddersfield audiences as Frollo in Huddersfield Light Opera’s ‘The Hunchback of Notre-Dame’ last month.

Meanwhile, Huddersfield theatre stalwart Patrick Hibbin plays Rough, after last appearing with the Thespians as the voice of the computer in sci-fi homage ‘Dark Sublime.’

‘Gaslight’ runs from Wednesday June 5 to Saturday June 8 2024 at the Lawrence Batley Theatre at 7.15pm with a 2pm Saturday matinee.

Tickets are available through the Lawrence Batley Theatre website and Box Office, at, on 01484 430528 or in person at Lawrence Batley Theatre, Queen’s Square, Queen St, Huddersfield HD1 2SP.

Gaslight’ closes the Huddersfield Thespians’ 104th season but there’s some Shakespeare in the Lawrence Batley Theatre Courtyard in August. Tickets for ‘Shakespeare in the Courtyard’ are also now on sale, through the LBT.


What’s On in Huddersfield in May 2024 with concerts, shows, music, street food and great vibes