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October 13, 2008 | by  | in Theatre |
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Wait Until Dark

Wait Until Dark
Written by Frederick Knott
Directed by Peter Hambleton

At Circa
Oct 11 – Nov 8

Reviewed by Jackson Coe

Wait Until Dark is teeming with flair from before the curtain even opens. I’m often one to get quite excited by curtains, especially when they are used with panache. The magnificent red curtain which greets us as we enter the auditorium to see Wait Until Dark hints at a rich experience to come, an experience which is cleverly constructed and masterfully executed. A show such as this is what plays are all about; a robust script, a detailed design and superb acting.

Set in the 1960’s, the play is a thriller which pits the wits of a blind woman, Susy, against the wiles of three men conspiring to steal a doll. The three conspirators develop an elaborate set-up which Susy gradually unravells with the help of her young neighbour, Gloria. The plot is intricate and complex, and a lot of the pleasure in the piece is to be found in marvelling at the detail of the thing. Everything has its place in the fabric of the plot, and every chance encounter has a ripple further down the story. It’s a lot of fun just watching it take place in front of you.

A script with such an elaborate plot must be supported by a competent cast. Here, Ban Abdul holds down the difficult role of Susy with a finesse which is confident and poised, performing the functions of a blind woman with well developed skill. The three conspirators each add their own dynamic to the show; Paul McLaughlin plays a wily but ultimately soft Mike, Toby Leach plays the rough Croker, and the slightly camp Roat is played with conviction by Tom Gordon. Together, the three conspirators are menacing and scary. Also worthy of mention is the young Holly McDonald, playing Gloria on opening night (a role shared by Rebekah Smyth), whose strong characterisation is impressive for one so young.

Rounding off the great cast and script are some fantastic design features. John Hodgkins has constructed a superbly believable London flat which is detailed and very thorough in its authenticity. Like the script, where everything has it’s place in the story, so too does every feature of the set serve a purpose. Supporting this is Jennifer Lal’s lighting design, which contains some great looking effects and sets the mood with consumate skill.

But the truly spectacular feature comes right at the end of the play, when all of the lights are off and the audience experiences exactly what Susy is going through. Every sound becomes a potential threat, and the fear and tension hits proportions which I never quite thought could be reached in the theatre. Moments such as these, when the audience are audibly gasping, are what defines this production of Wait Until Dark as one of the finest shows of the year.

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