There is place in the theatre for a thriller: a well made play with a plot which holds the audience in suspense, but I am not sure that Wait Until Dark quite achieves this.

The author, Fredrick Knott, wrote the script for Hitchcock’s film Dial M For Murder and Wait Until Dark was also turned into a highly successful movie for which Audrey Hepburn gained an Oscar.

Wait Until Dark by The Original Theatre Company

York Theatre Royal

Until Sat Nov 25 2017

£14-£30

More details

Perhaps in retrospect, this is the problem?

The techniques used in cinema are quite different from the stage and the excellent lighting scheme of the designer Chris Wthers had its problems to deal with.

Health and safety requires a theatre to illuminate exits but the denouement of the play managed to maintain tension and superb menace.

After seeing The Woman in Black almost ruined by excessive light at York Theatre Royal, I was glad to see that they largely overcame this.

The right ingredient

Karina Jones and Jack Ellis

The story is set in the Sixties and the piece has all the right ingredients. Three villains have tricked a man to bring a doll, filled with drugs into the country and have now come to retrieve it.

It has been taken to the basement flat owned by Sam (Oliver Mellor) who played his short role with just the right amount of energy and humour.

His wife Susy is being played for the first time by a blind actress (Karina Jones) and this adds frisson and vulnerability to the action. However, it cannot entirely rescue the rather complicated game of cat and mouse which ensues.

[arve url=”https://vimeo.com/229582727″ title=”Wait Until Dark trailer” /]

Rout, played by Tim Treloar is the most psychopathic of the three intruders and he has moments of chilling conviction while the two men working with him offer more light relief.

Jack Ellis as Mike is an unwilling participant and Graeme Brookes as Croker brings a natural comedy to his role.

Shannon Rewcroft plays a 12-year-old disruptive neighbour convincingly and adds the all important reason why they cannot just dispose of Susy without more ado.

Superb and thrilling

Shannon Rewcroft

As a theatrical experience the play is a mixture of dated conventions and characters. It is a well made play with a naturalistic set which in many ways shouldn’t succeed.

Directed by Alastair Whatley, the first half lays the foundations and I can’t really swear to understand the twists and turns of the plot. Yet the last 20 minutes were superb and yes… I’ll say it… quite visually thrilling.

Go for a good night’s old fashioned entertainment. It is not of West End standard but the audience sitting near me certainly seemed to enjoy it and I have to admit that by the end, putting aside my prejudices, I did too.

One thought on “Review: Wait Until Dark

  1. Agreed. The first two acts are frenetic, to say the least, and the characters race through the establishing scenes with the grace of a runaway train. Were they bored? Was it because they were approaching the end of a four-month run? Difficult to say, although in the following Q&A it was interesting to learn that this week’s production runs 30 minutes shorter than when it opened back in August. Adding to the frenzy was the incorporation of a rather long staircase into the set which, although allowing the cast some physical distance in which to race around, did elicit some concern as to which one of them might break a leg (sic) first.

    But, like Angie Millard (above) I came to terms with ‘Wait Until Dark’. Yes, it’s ‘period’, and these days one or two aspects of the plot would be considered risible, but it’s well-crafted and the production is intricately detailed. Everything does pull together in the second half – and the darkness, the tension and the amounting terror makes enduring the opening confusion worthwhile. You become engaged – ‘surely things will work out?’ – yet when, for one awful moment they don’t, it’s obvious why: the very first thing we experienced in the production told us… it’s just that we didn’t notice. And that’s what “Wait Until Dark” is about. A good old-fashioned thriller, where all the clues are there… it’s just that you have to pay attention.

    The cast deliver the story well – I found the protagonist rather shrill (but then, if I was blind and three desperate criminals had me compromised in my basement flat, I’d probably be quite shrill as well) although, again, a slightly gentler pace could have been used to set the scene earlier on. Audiences are capable of building up their own appraisal of what’s going on: it doesn’t have to be rammed home at breakneck speed. And the biggest problem I had as the melée continued was the rumbling dilemma of “who of these people do I care about?”. Because I did care: I just needed more clarity on the characters to discover each of them better.

    The set is magnificent. The subtle, haunting soundtrack is perfectly balanced (pay attention to it!) and the lighting plot and cues ingenious augmenting a play where being able to see is pivotal. The lighting in ‘Wait Until Dark’ is as much a cast member as any of the actors.

    Go and see it. During the interval, you’ll be staring into your gin-and-tonic wondering what on earth you’ve just been sitting through but, bear with it. Over the next hour, you’ll finally see the light.

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