Feel the creep

Veronica’s Room

Rated 3.0 Haunting holiday productions are in full swing, scaring audiences throughout Sacramento. Now that Halloween parties and decorations are becoming as popular as Christmas themes, theaters are responding. The term “holiday production,” once reserved exclusively for plays full of tinsel and Tiny Tim, is now just as likely to describe tales of ghosts, goblins and things that go bump in the night. Locally, there’s enough scary stuff to satisfy both younger and more mature thrill seekers.

Current children’s productions include the Children’s Theatre of California’s presentation of The Canterville Ghost (for information, call (916) 443-5300) and the Storybook Children’s Theater version of Sherlock Holmes and the Mystery of the Dark Castle ((916) 207-1226).

Adult selections include the Delta King Theatre’s rendition of Stephen King’s classic Misery ((916) 995-5464), Mother Lode Performing Arts Company’s Blood and Ice ((530) 672-3322) and Volcano Theatre Company’s Premature Corpse ((209) 223-4663). The newest Halloween offering is the Thistle Dew Dessert Theatre’s Veronica’s Room.

Veronica’s Room has all the setups of a scary story: an innocent victim, a suspicious setting, a suspenseful plot and a surprise ending. This twisted tale is by Ira Levin, an author best known for his bizarre writing in Rosemary’s Baby and The Stepford Wives.

The play is set in 1973. Hapless hippie Susan has stumbled upon an odd Irish couple who claim she is a dead ringer for Veronica, a deceased young woman they used to take care of. They ask Susan to come back to their house and impersonate Veronica for her dying sister.

As with most tall horror tales, the improbabilities abound. Susan, a stranger to the couple, actually agrees to put on the dead woman’s dress and play-act in her old bedroom. Everything about this play stretches credibility, but if you agree to suspend disbelief, it’s full of enjoyable horror-story high jinks.

The set, designed by Thomas M. Kelly, and the costumes by Kathleen Furey create the perfect ambience for a play that portrays both the 1970s and the 1930s.

The play’s first half could use some smoothing out. The cast is a little too campy and stiff to pull the audience into this creepy tale effectively. However, by play’s end, the foursome (Tara Reynolds as Susan, Joel Sooby as the old caretaker, Manuela Rumsey as his wife and Joe Flynn as Susan’s date) finally gel to create a suspenseful conclusion that will leave you shaking your head in disbelief.