First class dark thriller at Abbey

THE FIRST night audience at the Abbey Theatre’s production of Ira Levin’s ‘Veronica’s Room’ was, arguably, a room full of Miss Marples, including myself.

But I guarantee that not one of us was remotely near guessing all the turns and twists of this dark and scary thriller.

And I equally guarantee that not one of us would have left the theatre before the end unless the fire alarm had sounded and the cast had vacated the stage.

I’d say the play is about escape - not physical escape although that came into it - but mentally escaping.

The setting is just what is says on the programme, Veronica’s room, in real time 1973, but just as it was in 1935 when Veronica died.

The Girl (Debbi Proctor) and The Young Man (Alan Johnston), are shown in by two old Irish servants, The Woman (Carol Bruce) and The Man (Mark Masson).

All four give first-class performances, but I have to single out Debbi for being not only word-perfect, but for delivering a long list of names not only with emotion, but at machine-gun speed.

The first act concludes with no shocks to the system, just the knowledge at curtain that something is very wrong. But what?

But if the first act was the bits of the jigsaw falling from the box for us to inspect, in the second act they fly together with shocking devilry.

The girl is innocent but are the others guilty? And of what? And who are they?

Producer Anne Smith must be a happy lady, not only for the choice of play, but for attracting such a top class cast.

Stage managers are Linda Patterson, William McKenzie and Heather Osborne. Anne Smith designed the set and it was built by Dave Ferguson, Ian Anderson, Ginny Graham, Tony Bogulack, Bob Johnston and Jim Ratcliffe; and painted by Caroline Pennant Jones, Dorothy Parfitt, Pat Stewart, Bill McKenzie and Dawn McKenzie. Lighting and sound, Stephen Gilbert; costumes, Susie McKinstray; prompts, Pat McInroy and Judith Sanderson (easy money!); publicity, Anne Smith; front of house, Bob Sawley; and catering, Kirsty Gibb; all assisted by theatre members.