Wait Until Dark

Thursday, 16 October, 2003
Review by: 
Alan Bird

Frederick Knott only wrote three plays Dial M for Murder, Write Me a Murder, and Wait Until Dark. Two of these plays have become classic movies; Dial M for murder starring Grace Kelly and directed by Alfred Hitchcock and Wait Until Dark starring Audrey Hepburn.

Wait Until Dark is a thriller about Susy, a young blind woman, who has to pit her wits against those of a merciless psychopath in a fight for survival. The tension gathers throughout the play and ends in an explosive final act with the outcome hanging precariously in the balance.

Whilst travelling through an airport in Amsterdam Susy’s husband agreed to deliver a doll to a sick young girl in a London hospital on behalf of an unknown woman. However, before he can deliver the doll the woman turns up at his flat to collect it, but it has been mislaid. A killer is now seeking to recover the doll and the hidden heroine it contains, he has already murdered once in this attempt.

The ruthless killer Roat enlists the help of two conmen to trick Susy into telling him where her husband, who is away on business, has hidden the doll. They plan an elaborate scheme to convince Susy that her husband is suspected of murder and that the doll is vital evidence. However, the blind Susy is not as helpless as she first appears, and her heightened sense of hearing causes her to suspect the motives of these unexpected visitors.

Saskia Wickham plays the part of Susy with exquisite skill. Looks of disorientation, fear and determination all find expression in her face and voice. Even when Suzy appears to have the upper hand over her murderous opponent she never loses her air of subdued panic and quiet desperation. In the opening acts, Wickham creates for her character an engaging personality, she compels you to feel concern for Suzy’s well being , further adding to the tension as this thriller spirals to its final conclusion .

Peter Bowles’ Roat is quietly menacing. His ominous whispered threats delivered in dulcet tones tell you that Suzy should expect no mercy and that this sadist has every intention to inflict pain. Director Joe Harmston steadily builds the tension in this riveting story from its opening scene until its climatic ending. A shocking thriller that keeps you thoroughly spellbound.


Notices from the popular press....
LYN GARDNER for THE GUARDIAN says, "Limp evening." NICHOLAS DE JONGH for THE EVENING STANDARD says, "Relish the slow, seductive spiral of excitement." CHARLES SPENCER for THE DAILY TELEGRAPH says, "Desperately tame and old-fashioned." IAN JOHNS for THE TIMES says, "Few sparks to lighten the gloom."

External links to full reviews from newspapers

The Guardian
Daily Telegraph
The Times

(production photos by Sheila Burnett)

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