‘Veronica’s Room’ shocks and awes its audience
Published: Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, June 29, 2011 19:06
The UCF Conservatory Theatre performers gave their audience an entirely new reason never to speak to strangers in their chilling production of Veronica's Room.
The mystery-thriller, originally written by Ira Levin, tells the story of a young couple who ask a strange favor from an older couple. The story demands not one, but many dynamic characters from each actor as the plot shifts from scene to scene.
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Director Julia Listengarten wants her audience to think while being thrilled.
"We hope that our production will inspire audiences to question the intricate nature of truth as well as the complicated relationship between the ‘real' and the ‘imagined,'" Listengarten said.
The set is brilliantly rendered with every pain-staking detail of an old and forgotten room in 1973. According to Joseph Rusnock, the UCF Conservatory's resident scene designer, the biggest challenge was fitting all the requirements of the play onto the main stage.
"It takes an entire team working together," Rusnock said. "This is a very unique play."
The characters are nothing simple either and required the actors to do research.
Will Browning, a second-year student and bachelor of fine arts acting major, plays Larry, the eager young man dating Susan, portrayed by senior BFA acting major Chloe Miranda. Larry is ready to take Susan "down to the lake" after dinner when they meet an old couple at a restaurant who is taken aback by the resemblance Susan bears to a girl they once knew so they ask the pair to follow them to their place.
"Susan is a lot of fun," Miranda said. "She's a free spirit and a student in college, and I could really relate to her."
The play is dark and eerie, yet it maintains a sinister humor that gets the audience in on the joke. Susan's feminist ways mingle hysterically with the young man's blunt mannerisms in the first act as though nothing is amiss.
The two worked closely with professionals Kate Ingram and Earl Weaver of the Actors Equity Association, who played the old couple. Ingram is the program coordinator of UCF's graduate acting program and teaches Shakespeare and drama literature, and Weaver is the coordinator of musical theater and dance and played Herr Schultz in Cabaret on the UCF stage.
"It was amazing working with Kate and Earl," Browning said. "They welcomed us with open arms and we learned a lot."
Ingram and Weaver turn the tides on the entire production as their characters suddenly reveal their truly disturbing personalities on stage.
In Veronica's Room, as in all good mysteries, the questions aren't answered until the very end, keeping viewers on the edge of their seats. It's a play worth seeing once and then once more.
Veronica's Room will be on the Main Stage from July 1-3. The encore will be August 25-28. This play is included in the 2011-2012 Complete Season, Full Season, and Main Stage I passes. For more information call the box office at 407-823-1500, or visit http://theatre.ucf.edu.