A mysterious woman with a secret. A rational man desperate to believe. A locked room. Some twists, some turns. An iceberg. The Titanic.
Such was playwright Jeffrey Hatchers own description of his haunting and suspenseful Scotland Road, now captivating audiences at The Little Theatre of Alexandria.
One of the most compelling psychological thrillers to be brought to the stage, Scotland Road exploits the continued fascination and nostalgia for all things Titanic.
Set entirely in a stark, locked room, Hatchers play opens with an eerie black-and-white slide-show of images of an arctic sea interspersed with photos of passengers from the doomed ocean liner.
With the sound of rippling water and crunching ice, Director Gloria DuGan and the brilliant cast of four begin to weave their magic with Hatchers gripping play about a beautiful young woman rescued from an iceberg in the North Atlantic in 1992, saying only one word: Titanic.
The surreal mystery begins as the rescued woman, compellingly played by Karen Jadlos Shotts, surfaces in an isolated location on the coast of Maine being interrogated by John (Bill Fleming), an expert on the sinking of the Titanic who is determined to expose the mute, mysterious woman as a hoax.
Lorraine Magee plays the reluctantly cooperative Dr. Halbrech, who assists with the interrogation in an attempt to garner clues to her patients identity.
Rounding out the cast is Bonnie Jourdan as the reclusive Miss Kittle, the last remaining survivor of the ill-fated journey brought in by John in his quest to unnerve our stoic mystery woman.
Yet Shotts remains unflappable during her sometimes explosive interrogation and manages to keep every eye in the audience riveted on her despite not speaking a word throughout the first half of the one-act play.
Fleming assumes a lofty air of privilege as a descendant of John Jacob Astor, who perished on the doomed voyage. He plays his role with fierce determination and intensity, not easily maintained in the face of Shotts silence.
Amid an austere set consisting solely of a ships deck chair, the psychological mind games between Shotts and Fleming keeps the audience spellbound and hungry for every clue that is slowly revealed in the ever-deepening riddle of whos who.
Hatcher, who also brought to the stage Mitch Alboms phenomenally successful Tuesdays With Morrie, continually surprises the audience with unexpected twists in the play named for the central passageway that ran the length of the Titanic and allowed crew members to move between First Class and steerage.
While much of the audience is engrossed with the performances of Shotts and Fleming, Magee is equally absorbing in her role with Jourdan adding a welcome touch of comic relief to an otherwise intense 90 minutes.
In Scotland Road, director DuGan has perfected the art of suspense, allowing tension to build from scene to scene with brief blackouts designed to give the audience a chance to catch its breath.
The barren but effective set design by Grant Kevin Lane and Mike Schlabach serves to augment the mystery that is punctuated by Ken and Patti Crowleys skillful lighting design and special effects.
Producers Marian Holmes and Nanette Reynolds, along with the entire LTA cast and crew, have expertly created an escalating mystery that keeps the audience on the edge of its seats from start to finish.