When faced with two truths, each as convincing as the other, yet entirely incompatible, fear is not an unreasonable reaction. The cultivation of doubt is a tool of Veronica’s Room, coupled with time-honoured and effective horror tropes: sudden darkness, autonomous reflections, careful soundscape. MUCTG has created a brilliant show.
The program is beautifully printed and at twenty-two pages is longer than some novellas. However it is testament to the number of people whose work needed to be acknowledged. It’s clear from the moment you receive your ticket that each element of this production — from the dress code of the ushers to the set design — has been meticulously planned.
Co-directors Peng Peng and Zhao Yan have gotten the best out of each performer. The use of space by the actors was fantastic, whilst their commitment to one another and their characters couldn’t be questioned.
Shan Lu was exceptional. Perhaps her portrayal of Maureen in the opening sequences was a little overacted, but by the final scene, the emotional depths she reached in several other roles left the audience clearly affected.
Ren Sen’s range was on clear display, flipping from timid to aggressive without overplaying either role. And Patricia Pan must be noted for a strong performance in a difficult role.
If the use of space is to be commended so must the space itself through set designer Emma Ke. With the entirety of the play set in one room, Ke was able to build a stage which allowed for this intimacy, along with several tricks to facilitate the horror of Veronica’s solo scenes.
MUCTG impressed an audience with a flawless production — but beyond that, they brought real horror to the Union Theatre and for that they should be congratulated.
Melbourne University Chinese Theatre Group’s production of Veronica’s Room ran in the Union Theatre from 8-10 October.