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
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
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.
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
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.