Reviewed by Helen S. Bas
A scary mystery-thriller is just what’s needed for Halloween, and Clio Cast & Crew have delivered on that in their current production, Wait Until Dark.
The stage is set, so to speak, with the living room of Sam and Susy Hendrix. It serves as the backdrop for each of the four scenes in the play and is cleverly outfitted to contain all the ingredients for murder and mayhem.
Wait Until Dark, written by Frederick Knott, opened on Broadway in 1966 and was made into a movie in 1967, in which none other than Audrey Hepburn played the female lead.
The cast is small, just eight people: Susy and Sam (played here by Pam Beauchamp and Richard Zowie); a couple of paroled small-time thugs, Mike Talman (Connor Klee) and “Sergeant” Carlino (William Kircher); a really bad thug, Harry Roat, Jr., and his dad (both Chris Dinnan); a pain-in-the-neck neighbor girl, Gloria (Kelli Campbell); and two able-bodied police officers, played by Alex Vincent and Ed Nelson.
The plot is fairly straightforward: An unwitting Sam is duped into carrying a heroin-filled doll across the border from Canada to New York. He loses track of it. And he and Susy are pursued relentlessly, if a little clumsily.
Although subtle plot twists are somewhat confusing, the play centers on Susy, who is blind from a recent accident and more helpless than she (and Sam) would like. Nevertheless, she is bright, wily and resourceful. Beauchamp does a wonderful job of keeping in character and pulls the whole thing together.
The bumbling thugs meet at Sam and Susy’s apartment for reasons they are not sure of, and soon Roat appears. A fairly unclear and convoluted plot is hatched to get the doll. They invent all sorts of comic signals and stories that seem superficially unnecessary, but give the play a spoofy, melodramatic bent. Klee, Kircher and Dinnan made their villainous characters creepy, yet likable.
Sam is basically not present, having been there at the beginning when he leaves for a photography assignment, and appearing briefly at the end. But his character is endearing, fussy and prim, encouraging Susy to be more independent. Some of his teachings will prove valuable to her in outwitting the thugs.
Weaving all through the play is the young girl upstairs, Gloria. She’s snotty, arrogant and slightly mean, but has a kind streak underneath. Campbell gives the character lots of life.
So the antics begin, and complex, contrived plots to find the doll are acted out by the thugs. Susy has no idea where the doll is at first. When she finds out, she does a superb job of hiding her knowledge. As the action draws to a close, Susy, aided by an enthusiastic Gloria, outwits the thugs as our two able-bodied police officers arrive at the scene.
The ensemble cast does a wonderful job in creating believable characters, and the many plot twists and some scary moments keep the audience on edge. Will there be the requisite happy ending? Or will the bad guys steal the show?
Wait Until Dark continues tonight and Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m., Oct. 26–27 at 7:30 p.m. and Oct. 28 at 2 p.m. Theatre 57 is located at 2220 West Vienna Rd. in Clio. For tickets or more information, call 810-687-2588 or visit http://www.cliocastandcrew.com.