Stock Drama Group at the Village Hall
The room – the “shrine” - is shrouded in dust sheets, the cast list in the programme is deliberately unhelpful.
This melodramatic thriller by Ira [Deathtrap] Levin has some clever, chilling twists, even if it lacks practical or psychological credibility. Like the later, better, piece, it has plays within plays … Not to mention timeslips and philosophical questions about the nature of reality.
Stock, directed by Peter Baker, give it a stylish outing, with a nicely furnished 1930s room and some believable 70s costumes. The lighting is atmospheric, although more dark corners would have helped the mysterious mood.
Sarah Kettlewell is the unfortunate young heroine at the heart of the increasingly nasty plot – a Cordelia at school, she is left alone to create the tension before the twist at the end of Act One, which she does very effectively; her litany of 1973 is another fine moment.
Greg Morgan – is he really a lawyer, is that toothbrush moustache really a fake ? - is her unlikely boyfriend, and a more sinister professional after the interval.
The resident staff – at the start at least – are excellently characterized throughout by Sylvia Lanz and Ian Stratford.
Maybe a little less shouting, a little more underplayed menace, would have strengthened the dramatic impact. And if the action is to be shifted from Boston MA to Oxfordshire, then more work needs to be done on the text: summer camp, goosebumps, the Depression all betray its true origins.