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Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012

Thrillingly Cold Precision in ‘The Nightmare Room’

review
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Koren Black's white, sterile set comes to a sharp point. In a way, it serves as the title character in the U.S. premiere of John Goodrum's The Nightmare Room, a satisfying thriller that opens the season for In Tandem Theatre.

As Catherine, Mary C. McLellan brings an elegant sense of precision. Her demeanor mirrors the cold sterility of the room. We find out in the course of the drama that she is a real estate agent and has built this room herself—and she's built it for a very specific purpose.

Libby Amato plays Helen, who was, at one point, Catherine's best friend. Arguably, they still are best friends. In any case, this isn't a healthy relationship. When we first see Helen, she is blindfolded. Catherine has taken her to the room against her will.

Catherine states her intentions: Both shall enter the room, but only one shall leave. There have been some complications between the two of them, involving a film star, a marriage and infidelity. The drama asserts itself as an intellectual and emotional chess match between Catherine and Helen. Both actresses swiftly slice through the emotional friction of the moment. As the story plays out, the two take turns being in control of the situation.

It's a very short play, but the story is small enough that we still get a detailed look at the two adversaries. And the intimate Tenth Street Theatre is the perfect home for just such a drama. In Tandem has produced a breathtaking, well-constructed story.

The Nightmare Room
continues through Oct. 21. For ticket reservations, call 414-271-1371.
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