Writer: Frederick Knott
Director: Alastair Whatley
Reviewer: Bill Avenell
The Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in Guildford has a deserved reputation for quality productions but unfortunately, this touring production from The Original Theatre Company falls short of its usual high standards in this revival of Frederick Knott’s 1966 thriller. Some of the blame lies with the choice of play which has dated badly since Audrey Hepburn’s celebrated performance in the film of the same name, but across the board, the entertainment is not up to the expected level.
The story tells of a blind woman caught up in an attempt to recover a drug-filled doll, innocently brought back from abroad by her photographer partner, by two ex-cons who are themselves duped into getting involved by their old flame and her mysterious accomplice. With her partner diverted, the scene is set for impersonations of an old friend and a policeman in an attempt to find the doll’s whereabouts and the play climaxes in the blind heroine’s efforts to turn the tables (don’t hold your breath).
The poverty of the production is summed up by the fact that the most notable point of interest throughout is that (in apparently a unique and certainly laudable piece of casting) the part of Susy is played by Karina Jones, an actress who is registered blind. Looking for kind things to say about the whole thing, Jones must be complimented on her technical performance and it is to her credit, although it sounds a bit silly to say it, that she gives an excellent portrayal of a blind person and is subtle as she gradually begins to realise the situation she is in. But that is about it as far as the cast is concerned. The acting is clumsy and the mysterious and supposedly vicious Mr Roat, played by Tim Treloar, is about as sinister as Kit Hesketh-Smith will be next week as King Rat in Dick Whittington.
Mention of the Panto just about sums it up. It is obvious from that well known slightly embarrassed light titter that the audience doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry and there is understandably some confusion in the punters minds as to whether Director, Alastair Whatley, is playing it for laughs. Some of the action on the stairs is reminiscent of the Home Alone films while Gloria, the little girl next door played by Shannon Rewcroft, appears to come straight out of The Famous Five.
Laugh or not it is also very slow and in trying to explain its plot, which is long-winded and confusing. David Woodhead’s design for the flat is clever and atmospheric but there is not much else to say that is complimentary.
Wait Until Dark is too dated, too confusing, too slow, too over-acted and too far below Guildford’s usual high standard.
Runs until 2nd December 2017 | Image: Contributed