Friday, 27 February 2015

VERONICA'S ROOM by Zodiac Theatre Company
Create Theatre, Mansfield.

Veronica's Room is a play by Ira Levin, best known for Rosemary's Baby. A middle-aged Irish couple, John and Maureen Mackey, bring a young couple, Susan and Larry, to their Boston home where the Mackeys are caretakers. Susan and Larry have recently begun to date, and the Mackeys approached them at a restaurant due to Susan's resemblance to a dead woman, Veronica. The Mackeys explain that Veronica's elderly, senile sister, Cissie, is now their charge, and Susan agrees to dress up as Veronica in an effort to bring Cissie a sense of closure. The year is 1973, but Cissie believes it to be 1935. Larry and the Mackeys leave Susan alone in Veronica's preserved bedroom to change into a period outfit. But all is not as it first seemed when the Mackeys return to the room.

This action all takes place in the first half of the play and boy does part two bring some real surprises including TWO quite shocking and disturbing final sections.

Directed by Simon Ward, he keeps the shocking reveals a well kept secret. Only the last ten minutes of the play finally brought all the pieces of the jigsaw together in  what was for me, one of those light bulb "eureka" moments, only to find even more to come that unless you knew the play, you may not have guessed. I deliberately did not read up on the play as I like to be shocked by great theatre and that was what I got. Great suspense in such a short time span kept you on the edge of your seats all through the second part and your mind wondering what was afoot in the first half.

There are several chunks of the play that I've left out because I would hate to present you with "spoilers" for this one, and if you do know the play, you will understand why I have done this.

The Zodiac Theatre Group have pulled, again, a very talented quartet of actors together for this little shocker, but then again they are well rehearsed in the dark side of theatre knowing some of their back catalogue, which shows that through Simon and the cast, they do not shy away from plays like this one, and thank goodness for that.

Anna Sanderson played Susan and you could really feel her fear for the situation she found herself in and the build up to that situation, proving what a talented actor she is. But i already knew that after seeing her in "Agnes Of God" at the Lace Market Theatre last year.

Lindsay Foster​, who played "Agnes" in last year's production takes on the role of Maureen, who could give Kathy Bates in "Misery" a good run for her money for creating an atmosphere on stage.

Her "husband" John in the play is played by Craig Foster, who succeeds in providing even more menace.

And finally Darren Randall completes the cast as Larry, Susan's new beau, who also is not quite who he seems at first light. In fact  it's not until right at the end that you discover who all the characters really are and then nothing is really confirmed, leaving your understanding of the four characters and who you perceive them to be within your head.

It's fast, so as to make the maximum impact, sharp, definitely not one for the children and, as I said, quite shocking with a good many twists along the way and definitely one to see if you like TV programmes like "Broadchurch".

"Veronica's Room" is on at The Create Theatre, West College Notts, Mansfield, Friday 27 to Saturday 28 February 2015. Tickets are £9/£7 Concessions and can be bought via Zodiac Theatre directly on: 07723 419071 or just turn up on the night and it all, quite literally, kicks off at 7.30pm

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