WAIT UNTIL DARKBy Frederick Knott, Adapted by Jeffrey Hatcher
Upright Theatre Co.
Directed by Natalie Burkhart
Fight Director- Carlo J Aceytuno
Stage Manager- Ashley Hawkins
Scenic Design- Eric Luckie
Properties Design- Amy Luckie
Costume Design- Megan A. Liles
Lighting Design- Branson White
Sound Design- Natalie Burkhart
Fight Captain- Daniel Lawson
Carlino- Joe LaFarge
Roat- Greg Dinsmore
Susan- Cynthia Summers
Sam- Josué Summers
Mike- Daniel Lawson
Gloria- Lillie Mikusek
Reviewed Performance: 10/8/2022
Reviewed by Scott Lee Clayton, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
The play follows a story of crime and mystery as Harry Roat blackmails Sergeant Carlino and Mike Tollman into helping him find a doll that contains something of importance, by helping him dispose of a dead body which turns out to be his own wife’s. While believing Carlino is in Lisa’s residence, it is the home of Sam Hendrix and his blind wife Susan. Throughout the play, Tillman, Carlino, and Roat all come in at random points when the doll is mentioned, which is almost creepy and haunting that every time the doll is mentioned, either the phone rings or someone comes through the door. In the line of questioning, Susan has no idea about the murder, nor does she know the location of the doll but knows Sam has it. However, it is revealed later that Gloria, the helper of Susan stole the doll thinking it was a gift for her. Once Susan realizes where the doll is she reveals to Mike that the doll is in the house and then leads them on a wild goose chase only to get Carlino, Roat and Tillman agitated thus leaving the uncomfortableness you are left to be in by the play’s conclusion, as it is revealed it is Roat that is the mastermind of all of this wanting the doll. Once Roat gets ahold of the doll, it is revealed there are diamonds inside, and then leads to Susan killing Roat after Roat tries to kill her, which leads to Sam returning home to make sure his wife is ok after Susan sends Gloria to Grand Central to tell Sam everything that has happened just before the big car crash of intensity that the play leaves you at its conclusion.
Natalie Burkhart directs this show with gusto, as she leaves you exactly how you are supposed to feel with a sense of intensity and leaves you extremely uncomfortable in a good way by the play’s ending. I also really enjoyed the Scenic Design of Eric Luckie, in which the set complements the lighting design work of Branson White, bringing this eeriness and aura that this house is supposed to have and also costumed well in Megan A. Liles’ design.
Cynthia Summers’ portrayal of Susan has all the wonderful instincts of an actress, and I thoroughly enjoyed the raw emotion that made you feel for her in the final moments. However, while I enjoyed her instincts and choices, I felt at times the blindness was almost not played into but had some really good moments when objects were thrown and she could not find them. All in all, her performance was not one to miss. Greg Disnmore’s Roat was a tour de force of creepiness, mystery, and eerie, though I wish there were more hostility and gruffness in the character, as it was almost like he played it lighter and timid but had very impressive moments where the gruff and hostility clicked. Furthermore, Sgt. Carlino played by Jose LaFarge is full of believability and care, as he plays his role authentically and almost detective-like as if he was a real sergeant.
In addition, I felt the strongest performer of the cast was in one Lieutenant Mike Tollman, played by Daniel Lawson. Lawson makes Tollman not be the bad guy, until he gets really angry that Susan led him on a wild goose chase trying to find the doll, only for it to be revealed he wasn’t on Susan’s side all along and was on Roat and Carlino’s side. Seeing Mike on their side really threw me for a loop and left me questioning as to how he was associated with them until he told Susan the truth before his ultimate demise by Roat. Lillie Mikusek’s portrayal of Gloria is very ingenue-like and innocent, while you also see a side of spunk with how she treats Susan. The only complaint I had, while I loved her portrayal, at times it was awfully hard to hear her, and the same with Roat as it was almost noticeably quiet, though the acting was there.
Josué Summers’ Sam makes you wish he were a bigger part of the play than more than just the two scenes he is in. Summers makes Sam very lovable and leads to a very touching moment between Sam and Susan after Roat’s death.