WAIT UNTIL DARK
Written by Frederick Knott
Garland Civic Theatre
Director - Stacy Upton Bracey
Stage Manager - Steven Bracey
Scene Design - Stacy Upton Bracey
Costume Design - Kera Sims
Fight Director - Dave Westbrook
Lighting & Sound Design - Hank Baldree
Mike Talman - Jonathan Luce
Sgt. Carlino - Adam Anthony Vigil
Harry Roat - Brian Hokanson
Susy Hendrix - Alexzandria Smith
Sam Hendrix - Chima Collin Akanno
Gloria - Bella Brown
Police Officers - Bethany Brown, Conner Stewart
The action takes place in a basement apartment on New York’s Lower East Side, 1963
Reviewed Performance: 5/1/2022
Reviewed by Mildred Austin, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
WAIT UNTIL DARK was first produced on the stage in New York in 1966 and quickly turned into a motion picture in 1967, starring Audrey Hepburn. She was nominated for both an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for Best Actress for her masterful performance as Susy Hendrix. The film is ranked tenth on Bravo’s The 100 Scariest Movie Moments for its climactic scene. I saw this movie when it first came out and although I remember nothing about the rest of the film and plot, I still vividly remember how frightening I found that final action!
The play is an exercise in juxtaposition. Susy is blind and is targeted by three men as they believe she has a doll containing heroin that belongs to them. In the beginning, her blindness is an asset for the crooks as they wander unseen all around her, but as we see later, her disability becomes her “ace in the hole “ when she turns the table on them by plunging her apartment in darkness, putting her at the advantage. She is dogged and determined but the men see her only as a weak woman who couldn’t possibly thwart their intended plans.
WAIT UNTIL DARK is produced over and over by theatres across the country as well as revivals staged in New York. I’m sure it is challenging to stage, but also fun for the actors. Garland Civic Theatre’s production is sure to entertain and sure to give a thrill as well. The director, Stacy Upton Bracey, has designed an easily believable New York basement apartment, though the bright blue cabinets threw me a bit. The “in” colors for 1966 were gold and olive green. Perhaps we were to accept that, after all, Suzy couldn’t see what garish colors they were, and like many husbands, hers didn’t care. The two levels of the set were quite useful in the staging and the characters oversaw the stairs like pros.
The two con men who are in on the search for heroin are played by Jonathan Luce and Adam Anthony Vigil. Both do a good job with their characters and play them totally different as they should be. Brian Hokanson brings the third “bad guy” to us and completes the trio of thugs, though he plays the “mean, really mean” guy to the other two’s slightly softer crook status. The cruelty and meanness of Roat’s character never totally come to fruition, possibly hampered by the fact Mr. Hakanson really doesn’t look the part and his speech and manner never fully overcome that. One stage problem that dogs these three men is enunciation. In the first scene, I understood only a little of what they said. In fact, I had to consult a synopsis of the play I found online, to attempt to decipher what happened in that scene that is so important in setting the stage for what is to come. Look to the consonants in your dialogue, gentlemen! Consonants define words. They cannot be thrown away or you won’t be clearly understood.
I would also suggest to not just these three but to all the actors that when you enter the stage you should enter exuding the explicit intention of what you hope to accomplish on the stage once you are there. There were too many entrances throughout the show where the actor failed to establish that first for their character and thus the audience. Never just “enter stage right” and that’s it.
Mr. Akanno, you were part of a “twofer” as I understand. It was a good thing as you and Ms. Smith played off each other with a comfortable intimacy. You did fall into the same as the other gentlemen, however, losing most of the consonants in your lines.
Ms. Smith, you were an absolute delight, as Susy should be. You have a very expressive face and emotions played there easily. Your work to play a sightless character was challenging but you pulled it off. Unlike the guys, you had no problem being understood. Thank you for your enunciation and for finding the consonants in your lines!
Bella Brown, you were full of yourself and brought the impish, sometimes brattish, sometimes annoying character of Gloria to life. Good job! And our police were suitably late to the game as they never seem to be as “Johnny on the spot” in plays as the calvary is in old Westerns. My hat is off to the generous actors who take on characters who only briefly appear but are necessary to the action. We couldn’t do without you!
An enjoyable evening of theatre that we as audience members can finally enjoy as in the old days! Garland Civic you had a good crowd and I hope you continue down that road!
WAIT UNTIL DARK
Garland Civic Theatre, 300 N 5th Street, Garland Texas 75040
Box Office 972-205-2790
Online Tickets: GarlandArts.com
Plays through May 15, 2022
Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., Tickets $20.00
Sundays at 2:30 p.m., Tickets $20.00
For information go to www.garlandcivic.org