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Review: The Nightmare Room at the Theatre Royal Windsor

Review: The Nightmare Room at the Theatre Royal Windsor

Two women. One bottle of poison. One locked room.

That’s the intriguing premise behind this sparsely staged and always captivating thriller based on a story by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

It’s not a Sherlock Holmes tale, but while the sleuth may be nowhere to be seen there is no shortage of wicked games, deadly motives and shocking twists in John Goodrum’s adaptation.

Sarah Wynne Kordas and Angie Smith play Catherine and Helen, two old friends whose relationship gets torn apart by their shared love for handsome film star Michael.

The rivalry turns sinister, and the play opens with Helen tied to a chair in a soundproofed room. Catherine is determined to play a game of Russian Roulette with a deadly poison to decide once and for all who gets their prize.

The majority of the play takes place in this one room, with clever and subtle lighting used for flashbacks to flesh out the pair’s relationship with Michael and their close, and increasingly complicated, friendship.

Against a bright white backdrop (it almost hurts the eyes) and with just a few props to work with, Wynne Kordas and Smith have nowhere to hide and they acquit themselves brilliantly.

Wynne Kordas in particular impresses as an increasingly unhinged property developer – confident and in control on the surface but obsessive and vulnerable underneath.

The flashbacks do a mostly good job of investing the audience in the pair’s rivalry, even if a couple did drag a bit, while the mind games in the locked room will keep you guessing right up until the end.

Thrilling, surprising, well acted and intelligently staged, the Nightmare Room is well worth your time.

The Nightmare Room is at the Theatre Royal Windsor until Wednesday, September 5.

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