review published in The News Tribune April 20, 2007
Tacoma Little Theater’s latest offering is an old fashioned thriller called “Wait Until Dark” by Frederick Knott. I suspect that few people remember the 1967 film starring Audrey Hepburn and a young Alan Arkin, and that even fewer remember the 1966 stage production or the short-lived revivals in 1998 and 2003. But I’ll bet a lot of area theater patrons have fond memories of other plays and movies of this type: unadulterated thrillers in which tension builds and builds toward an inevitable climax, thrillers that do not rely on outlandish characters or humor or clever plot twists.
Hitchcock, of course, comes immediately to mind, as well some Robert Mitchum vehicles such as “
A trio of con artists preys on a blind woman, Susy Hendrix (Debbie Gallinatti), in her
Gloria, the petulant neighbor girl who sometimes helps out in the Hendrix home, is fond of Sam, but makes no bones about not liking Susy. At first, she is more of a hindrance than a help to the blind woman; but as the plot thickens, she becomes intrigued by the mystery and possible danger, and becomes a valuable ally.
Gradually Susy figures out that something is afoot and that she is in mortal danger. The only weapons she has to defend herself with are her wits and her blindness. She has a distinct advantage over the men because she has trained herself to get around without sight and they haven’t. So she turns out the lights. And much of the climactic struggle takes place on a pitch-black stage.
I wish the suspense was a bit more nail-biting and the ending a bit more of a surprise, but I certainly can’t fault the cast or director for that. It’s just that in the years since this play was written we’ve seen too many thrillers with similar plot devices.
Gallinatti is believable as a blind woman. She never lets her eyes focus in the way a sighted person would. Her panic and anger are also quite realistic. In short, she does a great job of acting.
Dear is also convincing as Tallman, the most multi-dimensional character in the play. Tallman is an evil man, a man who may even be capable or murder, but he is also compassionate and likeable. Dear immerses himself into the role so well that it is easy to forget he is acting. I found myself pulling for him even when I knew he was up to no good.
Schroeder, on the other hand, is clearly acting. He doesn’t seem natural. When he is being cool and collected, his voice has no inflection; and when he gets excited, his emotion seems flat. Granted, his is a difficult role as Roat assumes various personas during the course of the action.
Cantrell nails the fidgety and slovenly pretend cop, Carlino, and Carlson does a great job of playing the classically complicated 13-year-old.
The set and lighting by Brett Carr are both terrific. He truly captures the look of a 1960s basement apartment in
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