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Wait Until Dark
Opened at Pendragon Theatre, Saranac Lake, NY, Thursday, June 14, 2001
WAIT UNTIL DARK, currently running in repertory at Pendragon Theatre in Saranac Lake, is a rather uneven production. Perhaps you remember the movie version starring Audrey Hepburn as a blind woman who is terrorized in her apartment by three criminals. I was looking forward to seeing the stage version, as it's a real thriller. Unfortunately this production has a central weakness that undermines the tension of the plot.
The set, designed by bk squared design, fits well on Pendragon's small stage and works very well for the play's extensive physical action. The costumes, designed by Rhiannon Kramer, are functional and appropriate. She needs to remind Keith Walsh, who plays Sam, to make sure his overcoat isn't totally turned under. It's out of character for someone who's supposed to be so fastidious.
As Susy, the blind girl, Molly Pietz does a very good job. Her physicalization of the character, especially her use of the sense of touch, is excellent. If I hadn't just seen her delightful performance in TARTUFFE, I would have thought perhaps she was really blind.
Bob Pettee who plays Mike Talman, the most sympathetic of the criminals, is also convincing in his role. He's obviously a very good actor and I hope to see more of him in the future.
As to the production's major flaw, it lies in the character of Harry Roat as played by Burdette Parks. Harry Roat is written as a psychopath who must exude a sense of menace. Otherwise we don't understand why the others let him control their actions. We also keep losing the thread of the plot in the scenes involving Roat and Carlino, another non-frightening criminal played by Kristopher Kensinger, but the far bigger problem is that if we don't believe the threat, we don't believe the play.
Bonnie Brewer's staging is certainly competent, particularly in the difficult second act. I must say I wondered about the elaborate and unrealistic chaining of the door. There is also a problem with most of the off-stage sound. In a play which involves a blind character who uses sound as clues, things such as approaching footsteps and closing building doors must be very realistic to be believed.
As I mentioned at the beginning, although there are positive elements and a couple of excellent performances, the play is uneven. On a scale of one to five, Pendragon Theatre's production of WAIT UNTIL DARK gets three pine cones. For North Country Public Radio, I'm Connie Meng.