MISERY at the Queen Mother Theatre, Hitchin

THE stage adaptation of the classic Stephen King thriller is a tour de force for actors. Popular romance novelist Paul Sheldon (Ken Torbett) retires each winter to Colorado to write another work featuring heroine Misery Chastain. He crashes in a blinding

THE stage adaptation of the classic Stephen King thriller is a tour de force for actors.

Popular romance novelist Paul Sheldon (Ken Torbett) retires each winter to Colorado to write another work featuring heroine Misery Chastain. He crashes in a blinding blizzard en route and wakes up not in hospital but in the home of Annie Wilkes (Gemma Van Praagh) a reclusive nurse who has rescued him from his wrecked car.

Thus begins Paul's descent into a living hell.

Tender loving care soon turns to terrorism and a deadly cat and mouse game ensues as Paul finds himself forced to write a chapter of a new novel every day - simply to stay alive. Ken and Gemma worked as a tight unit that contained the energy needed to build this production toward its frightening conclusion. Gemma Van Praagh commanded the stage brilliantly, and gave the character of Annie Wilkes a whole new face, combining bare faced psychosis with a sweetness and humour that almost made her inevitable demise seem unfair.

All in all, an engaging commentary on the pitfalls and dangers of fame and idolatry.

Andrew Lee