THE AUDIENCE in The Palace Theatre’s Room Upstairs was told a spine-tingling tale for All and Sundry’s latest offering.
It centres around Julia Darrow who is the secret lover of John Bennett until he dies in a car crash they are involved in.
His busybody wife Margaret, apparently unaware of the situation, just wants to meet the person who was with him when he died and takes it upon herself to look after Julia and nurse her back to health.
But, while all this is going on, along with interruptions from do-gooder Gary and social worker Anne, something strange is happening behind the scenes.
This powerful play was really brought to life by the four-strong cast and, apart from a few laughs at the intended smatterings of comedy, you could hear a pin drop in the auditorium.
The setting for this piece was key and it was clear why director Vanessa Morgan, who did a wonderful job, chose the Room Upstairs.
The intimacy of the small venue meant those watching went through every emotion with the characters and plenty of gasps could be heard as the thought-provoking plot unfolded.
Roy Watton as hapless but caring Gary and Kim Balsom as social worker Anne kept the plot ticking along nicely (along with the ticking sound effect which became over-familiar with the audience to illustrate the passing of time).
Cathy Stokes played Julia amazingly and, in such a way that, although she was the cheating one, you empathised with her and were hoping all the madness surrounding her – created by the other characters – would go away so she could be left in peace.
But the best performance of the night was by Barbara Treen as John’s wife Margaret.
She conveyed the sinister character perfectly throughout with – very often – her actions and body language saying just as much as the words she spoke. You got the sense she knew what had been going on all along and, with this underlying tension, you felt she could strike at any moment.
By the end, she was the epitomy of evil and brought a cracking conclusion to the perfect and powerful production.