‘Veronica’s Room’ is a chilling mystery thriller, written in 1974 by Manhattan-born playwright Ira Levin. He started writing comedy and scripts for radio and TV. Then, with the hugely successful ‘Rosemary’s Baby’, ‘The Stepford Wives’ and ‘The Boys from Brazil’ coupled with his famous ingenious plots, Ira concentrated on novels. Levin had his ten years as a best-selling author whilst still in his forties.
This very unusual but ingenious play is being presented by the Melville Theatre Company; the 2-hour performances are each Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8.00 pm until 20th July, with one Sunday matinée on 14th July. The Melville Theatre is on the corner of Stock Road and Canning Highway in Melville.
The scene: 1973. A room in the Brabissant mansion, a wealthy home in Boston, USA.
The set: was designed by Georgina Kling and Vici Richardson. The room is oblong with a walk-in wardrobe and a passageway leading to a bedroom on one side, a bathroom door on the other and a main room door centrally at the rear of the stage. The walls are cream with waist-high, dark oak panelling. There is a small curtained window. The walls are not simply joined flats, but they have recesses and steps added to give interest and authenticity.
The noteworthy solid construction – and it was tested on a couple of occasions – was by Peter Bloor, Jacob Jensen, Georgina Kling, Barbara Lovell, Vici Richardson, Guy Taylor and Jacob Turner.
Set décor: was by Lars and Vanessa Jensen, Barbara Lovell, Vici Richardson, Kathleen O’Toole, Georgina Kling and Vivienne Doran. All the furnishings were of the 1930s, from the etched teardrop wall and table lamps to the chaise longue and oak furniture. Impressive.
Lighting design was by Jeff Hanson and Jacob Jensen. The room was mostly fully lit but at times needed to have low mood lighting. Very good.
Lighting and sound operators Barbara Lovell and Susan Lynch were on cue as always.
Quality programme from Siobhán O’Gara and Susan Lynch.
Students Susan (Grace Morton) and Larry (Jacob Turner) had just begun dating and were in a restaurant having a meal, when they were approached by a lonely, middle-aged Irish couple, John (Michael Dornan) and Maureen Mackey (Kate Elder).
In the restaurant, the Mackeys explain that they are caretakers in charge of the wealthy Brabissant family’s mansion but are also carers for elderly Cecilia, normally called Cissie. The Brabissants lost their younger daughter Veronica, decades earlier and Cecilia, who is now senile and is the only surviving Brabissant, believes it is still 1935 and is convinced that Veronica is still alive.
At the request of the Mackeys, to humour confused Cissie and bring her a sense of closure, they ask trusting and caring Susan – who is very like Veronica was – to dress up and impersonate Veronica. Susan agrees; however, Larry is very suspicious about the motives of this invasive Irish couple.
The play begins now: The lights rise to show Veronica’s old room.
The Mackeys show Susan and Larry into Veronica’s untouched bedroom shrine, complete with an unfinished jigsaw. The Mackeys leave and Susan changes into a Veronica’s old clothes. Before long she finds herself locked in Veronica’s room. The door lock rattles, opens and to her confusion someone unexpected is there at the door.
Can this possibly be time travelling?
Directed by Georgina Kling who was assisted by Vici Richardson this extremely difficult play to stage. it had to be handled with skill and clarity. The First Act was straight forward; however, the Second Act threw logic to the wind. Then just when the audience are starting to think ‘what is going on here?’ everything is slowly revealed. The cast were magnificent, their delivery and characterisation were perfect. Susan’s clever approach to tackling the visitor involved powerful acting. Great work. I will not review any more in case I spoil the twisted tale.
The fine costumes were by Penelope Lloyd and ‘Hustle and Bustle Vintage Style’ were exactly right for the period. Loved Mackey’s knitted cardigan. The tricky make-up and hair by North Metro TAFE’s Tanya McKeon and Marieke.
Every section of the production team was at their best. After directing a comedy last time, I wondered if Georgina would manage this madness but her interpretation of the characters and her ability to get such strong chemistry amongst the cast was wonderful. Thoroughly enjoyed it. For adults with good reasoning.