Wait Until Dark
 

 

Karina Jones as Suzy with Jack Ellis as con man Mike

Wait Until Dark

Malvern Theatres

****

When Sam Hendrix is conned into acting as a courier with a doll containing a quantity of heroin, he exposes himself, and most particularly his blind wife Suzy, to being conned, blackmailed and exploited.

Roat is the master criminal who uses two recently released convicts, Mike and Croker, to try and identify the whereabouts of the doll and its valuable contents. They pose as legitimate members of the forces of law and order, they seek to inveigle themselves into the confidence of the blind Suzy.

Eventually she recognises, with the help of Gloria, their true intentions. Gloria is a naïve young girl from the flat upstairs. Eventually it becomes a scary life-and-death confrontation in the pitch darkness between the blind occupant Suzy, whose world is always dark in any case, and the ruthless Roat.

Frederick Knott’s play written in 1966 was made famous by the Audrey Hepburn film in 1967. Now The Original Theatre Company is touring the country with this production, directed by Alastair Whitley.

We are immediately confronted by an impressive set designed by David Woodhead. The basement flat is very cleverly constructed so we have a strong impression of the street above and outside, the sense of being in a multi-storey building and of being shut in the basement with limited opportunities to escape.

The performance of the evening is really provided by Karina Jones as Suzy. Registered blind at the age of thirteen, her performance is remarkable. She is the central pivot around whom the action turns and she is strong and impressive. She is the first blind actress to play this role.

Around her the villains, Mike (Jack Ellis), Croker (Graeme Brookes) and Roat (Tim Treloar) are crisp and menacing, avoiding the temptation to be melodramatic for much but not all the time.

Chris Withers has designed the lighting with great skill, and the play depends ultimately on a climax where darkness is key to putting the conmen at a disadvantage. Within the limitations of Health and Safety legislation and the need for emergency lighting to remain operational, he does a very fine job.

There are some highly dramatic moments in the second Act, in particular, as the action moves towards its climax. However, there are a number of questions that remain unanswered and at times it becomes melodramatic and amusing. The final climax in near pitch darkness does not quite achieve the intended tension. The show is running at Malvern until Saturday, 28-10-17.

Tim Crow

25-10-17 

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