Mandurah manager swaps shop floor for centre stage

Carpet Call Mandurah's state manager Michael Dornan has traded in the retail floor for centre stage in a new psychological chiller.

Written by Ira Levin, best known for his best-selling horror novel Rosemary's Baby, and directed by Georgina Kling, Veronica's Room is a spine-tingling thriller about a family secret that explores a thin line between fantasy, reality and madness.

The chilling play, with a sense of looming danger, suspense and unexpected twists, follows students Susan and Larry who find themselves as guests enticed to an Irish couple's mansion.

The students, who claim Susan bears a striking resemblance to the couple's deceased ward Veronica, persuade her to impersonate Veronica to solace the dead girl's sister, now elderly and senile.

But once the door closes, Susan begins to feels she may have erred in her decision.

Dornan plays John Mackey, one half of the Irish couple.

Dornan said his character wasn't without his flaws.

"He's very driven and motivated but not necessarily in a good way,"he said.

"John is definitely a man in love and he's willing to do what it takes to make his beloved happy.

"But the characters are fluid and you could say that, throughout the show, there is a persistence state of flux.

"The main challenge is the accent and, of course, making sure I've imprinted the lines on my memory so I'm ready to deliver all the nuances that are so essential to this performance."

After starting his acting career in his late teens, Dornan spent most of the next decade of his life acting professionally in the UK.

Since returning to Australia, he has performed with the Old Mill, Stirling, Playlovers, Groovy Boots, Harbour, Melville and Blue Room Theatres in productions including Norm and Elsie's Macbeth, Oliver Twist and Twelve Angry Men.

Dornan said he loved everything about his latest production.

"Veronica's Room appealed because it's unrelenting and unforgiving, making for a neat and elegant thriller," he said.

"It's a bit like being trapped in someone else's nightmare - extremely jarring with a surprising climax."

Director Georgina Kling said she had never forgotten the chills she experienced when when she saw the script brought to life many years ago.

"I bought the script last year and re-read it, only to enjoy it even more," she said.

"There are so many twists and turns you don't see coming, so the play constantly keeps the audience thinking.

"Even once the show's over, you leave thinking 'What just happened?' and 'Who was that?'

"I love that sense of getting an audience thinking and talking about different theories, long after the play has ended."

Veronica's Room will perform at the Melville Theatre at 8pm on July 5, 6, 11, 12, 13, 18, 19 and 20 with a 2pm matinee on July 14.

For more information, or to purchase tickets, visit the Melville Theatre website.