VERONICA’S ROOM Proves BoHo Can Do It All
To say that BoHo Theatre’s production of of Ira Levin’s thriller Veronica’s Room is extraordinary theatre would be an understatement. From the moment you walk into the intimate space that this remarkable theatre company knows how to use to its maximum potential, there is a sense of foreboding that the playwright could have only dreamed of when he penned this play almost forty years ago.
Mr. Levin is the master of the untruth. What you think you are watching maybe fantasy or reality. That was such the case with Deathtrap and is the basis for Veronica’s Room. Giving a plot exposition in this review would spoil the experience but it is safe to say that Susan (Amanda Jay Long in a breakout performance) gets more than she bargains for when she and boyfriend Larry (Chris Ballou) agree to a bizarre request by an elderly couple (Sara Wellington and Sean Thomas) whom they meet while on a second date at a local restaurant. The request is pretend she is the late Veronica, which Susan strongly resembles, and then comfort Veronica’s dying sister Cissie, as she believes Veronica to still be alive. When Susan dons the the 1930’s dress of the the dead Veronica and becomes locked in her bedroom, the Ira Levin realm of reality and fantasy chillingly unravel.
Director Charles Riffenburg masterfully directs what can only be described as a perfect cast. There is not one performance that needs to be tweaked or changed and each “scene” moves flawlessly to the other. Ms. Long’s performance as Susan, through her character arch, needs to be seen to be believed. Ms. Long possess the skills of an actress twice her age and her ability to connect the pathos of what is happening around her, especially when she is the only one on stage, is exciting to watch. Sara Wellington is downright frightening as Mrs. Mackey and other incarnations as they may be; as is Sean Thomas (who will make the Lucky Charms leprechaun seem a tad more frightening after hearing his spot on accent) as he walks the tightrope bordering on the maniacal.
I only wish that Mr. Levin was alive to see Chris Ballou in a role in which the playwright surely would have himself cast this amazingly diverse young actor who is, dare I say, the modern day equivalent to Christopher Reeve (who was one of Mr. Levin’s favorite actors). In fact, when Mr. Ballou steps through the Veronica’s bedroom door three quarters of the way through the play, it is like watching the late Juilliard trained actor reincarnate.
It is not often that both the technical and performance aspects in the realm of theatre come together so flawlessly, but Veronica’s Room is that rarity and further proves that BoHo has become one our finest companies to exist in this incredible city of exceptional theater.
VERONICA’S ROOM runs through October 27, 2013, at the Heartland Studio Theatre , 7016 North Glenwood, Chicago.
Box Office: 866-811-4111
Running Time: 1hr, 25mins; no intermission
For calendar information visit TheatreInChicago.com