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The dark can be your friend in this psychological thriller
The audience becomes totally immersed in this disturbing crime thriller - in more ways than one! Frederick Knott's psychological drama, which is currently being performed at the Lichfield Garrick theatre, is based around a blind woman called Suzy who finds herself trapped in her basement flat facing peril from a group of seemingly desperate conmen. And what really sets this play apart - and helps stoke up the tension - is that the theatre is completely blacked out as the climax unfolds, plunging the audience into the same total darkness being experienced by Suzy and the other actors on stage.
Karina Jones (Suzy) and Jack Ellis (Mike). Credit Manuel Harlan
Wait Until Dark, which continues at the Lichfield Garrick until Saturday 14 October before resuming its national tour, is a new stage adaptation of Frederick Knott's original thriller set in 1960s London. Knott, who is also the author of Dial M Murder, went on to see Wait Until Dark made into a film in 1967 starring Audrey Hepburn. That film is said to be frequently ranked as one of the top 100 scariest movies of all time, but I have to confess that this stage revival only occasionally reaches those same terrifying and sinister heights.
Tim Treloar (left) as the creepy Roat with Graeme Brookes as Croker. Credit Manuel Harlan
The main source of tension is provided by Roat, well played by Tim Treloar, who is the creepy, seemingly unhinged leader of the criminal gang anxious to find a certain item of value seemingly hidden somewhere in the flat that Suzy normally shares with husband Sam. Suzy, herself, is excellently portrayed by Karina Jones as her heightened other senses gradually lead her to become suspicious, both of what is going on and the various characters who keep turning up at her home.
Conmen Mike and Croker hatch their plot. Credit Manuel Harlan
What I found myself taking issue with is whether a blind woman on her own would really leave her front door unlocked - unless things were very different in the sixties - and would Suzy have so readily trusted a complete stranger on the pretext that he happened to be a friend of her husband. That stranger was Mike, masterfully played by Jack Ellis of Prime Suspect and Bad Girls fame, who is at the heart of the elaborate scam to find the hidden item, before things take a deadly turn of events. But can Suzy turn the tables on the crooks in her home by finally using her blindness to her advantage?
Oliver Mellor as Sam with Karina Jones as wife Suzy. Credit Manuel Harlan
An excellent cast also includes Oliver Mellor (Coronation Street), as Sam, Graeme Brookes as Croker, and Shannon Rewcroft as 12-year-old Gloria. The national tour of Wait Until Dark, which is directed by Alastair Whatley, is produced by The Original Theatre Company in association with Eastbourne Theatres. Wait Until Dark continues at the Lichfield Garrick until Saturday 14 October with a variety of evening and matinee performances. Tickets start from £23 and can be booked online or by calling the Box Office on 01543 412121. The play then continues its national tour.
Shannon Rewcroft as 12 year old Gloria. Credit Manuel Harlan