FRINGE: Drowning in Veronica Lake – Theatre – Holden Street Theatres – 4K

Pre-set on stage as the audience enters, Veronica Lake (Alex Ellis) oozes mystery and sex appeal, her long cream gown accentuating her gorgeous figure and her golden locks cascading down her back. With the dimming of the lights, she turns to address you, her signature bangs falling over her right eye and her sultry voice taking you on a journey into her life. From her start as little Connie Ockelman, through her rise to fame and eventual downward spiral, we get to hear about the highlights and lowlights in a concise, one hour biography.

Under the direction of Simon Coleman, Ellis makes a wonderful Lake and also switches seamlessly between this role and the other important characters in her story. The use of various accents helps to differentiate these, as do very slight changes in posture and expression. The script, from Phil Ormsby, includes many of Lake’s most famous quotes and has some lovely, poetic phrasing in it. He creates a well-rounded picture of this troubled starlet.

Due to the very restrictive costume, a lot of the variation in the show is provided by changes in lighting and use of sound effects. For the most part this is done very effectively, with the atmosphere becoming increasingly darker as Lake’s story unfolds and unravels. While there is always a danger that drunken characters will be overplayed, the gradual inebriation of Lake is measured, realistic and affecting.

This is a very interesting look at the life of Veronica Lake and gives insight into the woman behind the Hollywood pin-up. It will have definite appeal for any fans of the late actress but is also an engaging and quality piece of theatre in its own right.

Kryztoff rating: 4K

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