Wednesday, 16 June 2021

Thriller’s tense and sensibility

Thriller’s tense and sensibility

The Nightmare Room | Theatre Royal, Windsor | Monday, September 3

THIS chilling tale of friendship gone awry, based on Arthur Conan Doyle’s mystery tale, was a taut psychological thriller presented on a stark, spartan set.

From the start, this had a staccato pace full of nervous energy, with an apparent kidnapping.

Packed with flashback sequences and dramatic twists and turns, director and designer John Goodrum ramped up the tensions between high-flying property developer Catherine (Sarah Wynne Kordas) and hardworking yet humble Helen (Angie Smith), who have become love rivals for Hollywood hunk Michael.

Wynne Kordas and Smith managed to flesh out their characters’ personality traits a snippet at a time — revealing a slow burn of jealousies, spite and wrath just beneath the surface.

In a cat-and-mouse game involving accusations, dares, revelations and a deadly vial of poison, while requiring a good dollop of suspension of disbelief, this was both tortuous and torturous.

Against a dramatic white backdrop, we were shown just how these two women had come to be locked in a sealed room, ostensibly fighting over a man yet having been stuck in power play since childhood.

The clever back-and-forth agendas meant that we really didn’t know how things would turn out — glass half-empty or glass half-full? — although there were portents.

This was a strong two-hander which kept the audience guessing, right to the bitter end.

Natalie Aldred

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