Bickford Theatre’s first production of 2015 is Jeffrey Hatcher’s new adaptation of Frederick Knott’s noir classic “Wait Until Dark” and dark it is, both figuratively and literally. The stage is intentionally set in a twilight tone in the initial moments, perhaps to give true effect to more of what the recently-blind Susan feels. We have a sense of unreal reality, similar to the sensation in dreams, looking at the vintage apartment in the gloaming of the dim lighting. This is portentous of what’s to come.
Lauren Klemp is our heroine Susan and she’s one tough and smart cookie, though she seems a bit fragile at first. Desperate times call for desperate measures, however, and she’s got the inner vision of a Shao Lin monk—and the strength, too, though it doesn’t seem so at first. Her husband Sam (Bob MacKay) is a photographer and a veteran, presumably of World War Two, and he is working through what he saw by photographing children and actors and models. This puts him under suspicion, though, when a woman who had an appointment for a photo session doesn’t show up and turns up later dead, in a vacant lot near the apartment. Lauren has only known Sam a for little bit longer than they’ve been married–how well does she really know him?
Detective Carlino, (Jeff Maschi) is an ex-so-so cop gone very-bad cop, who is in mastermind Harry Roat’s thrall. Michael Irvin Pollack, as Roat, brings menace, backed up by Maschi’s muscle and faux gravitas, and Roat is the consummate chameleon. But we all have “tells,” small, almost unnoticeable features that set us apart and that you don’t need eyes to notice, don’t we?
Sam’s army buddy Mike (Duncan M. Rogers) is the only friend Susan’s got and ex-Marines run stalwart and true, right? Sam has made sure that Gloria, the schoolgirl from upstairs, looks after Susan. Sydney Soleil Stovall’s Gloria is a gamine mix of almost tween and total smart aleck that betrays as keen an intellect as Susan herself possesses, as well as bravery in equal measure. Gloria’s going to need it—there are truly more lives at stake.
You might think that theatre would lack the thrills that we CGI-happy movie goers have come to enjoy. Good old-fashioned stage craft will have you on the edge of your seat and you will have a rip-roaring good time. Play your cards close to the vest at intermission, as there are twists and turns even for those familiar with the play and the movie. This adaptation is well worth the visit.
“Wait Until Dark” runs at the Bickford Theatre until February 15, so be sure to chill and thrill to this excellent new adaptation. Visit www.bickfordtheatre.org
and get your tickets today!