BWW Review: WAIT UNTIL DARK Toothless Thriller

BWW Review: WAIT UNTIL DARK Toothless Thriller

WAIT UNTIL DARK is a 1966 play by Frederick Knott that was revised in 2013 by Jeffrey Hatcher. Hatcher's revisions backdate the story to 1944, making Sam and Mike Marine buddies who served together in Italy, and the doll that is the object of search now contains diamonds instead of heroin. It also slightly tightens the text, most noticeably at the end of the first act.

Susan (Sarah Fleming Walker) is a blind Greenwich Village housewife who becomes the target of three con-men searching for the diamonds hidden in a doll, which her husband Sam (Frank West) unwittingly transported from Canada for a woman who has since been murdered. Harry aka "Roat" (Joe Falocco) leads his companions into thinking that they are going to be rich. Mike (Jason Graf) and Carlino (J. Ben Wolfe) try to convince her that her husband will be suspected of murdering the woman, and the only way to protect him is to give them the doll, as it connects him to her. Little do the men know that Gloria (Abigail O'Branovich), the little girl in the upstairs apartment, has stolen the doll after finding out it was not a gift for her.

WAIT UNTIL DARK is a thriller with most of the tension and shockers coming from the unhinged behavior of the psychopathic character Roat. Unfortunately, as directed by Kasey RT Graham, this character doesn't seem so much a psychopath as he just seems manic. There's no real sense of immediate and unpredictable danger and without that, you don't have much suspense. Additionally, the multiple characters Joe Falocco plays are outfitted with some of the worst wigs I've seen. I grant that Susan is blind; however, the audience isn't. Without the tension from Roat, much of what Sarah Fleming Walker, as Susan, needs to build her growing sense of desperation, panic and fear just isn't there. She does a terrific job playing blind and it's a shame she wasn't offered more to build upon.

There are some good supporting performances here: Jason Graf is totally believable as the friend of Susan's husband, alternately warmly supportive and slyly deceptive. As said husband Sam, Frank West gives a nice turn in a small role, full of warmth. I also found Abigail O'Branovich as Gloria to be an engaging young performer with a maturity that belied her age.

The tech is quite good, from Madalyn Bond's costumes to Stephen Pruit's noir influenced lighting design all the way to Casey Niblett's scenic design, although I am puzzled by a kitchen without a stove. I was distracted by this to a great did she make meatloaf without a stove?

In short, WAIT UNTIL DARK misses the mark on suspense and thrills while getting high marks for mood and ambiance. I will add that I saw the show opening night and it is possible that things may have improved during the run.

WAIT UNTIL DARK adapted by Jeffrey Hatcher from the play by Frederick Knott

Running Time: Approximately Two Hours including intermission

WAIT UNTIL DARK, produced by TexARTS, playing in the Kam & James Morris Theatre at TexARTS' Erin Doherty Studios, 2300 Lohman's Spur, Suite #160, Lakeway, TX. Fridays-Sundays, October 19 - October 29, 2017

October 20, 21, 26, 27, 28, 2017 at 7:30 pm. October 22 and 29, 2017 at 2:00 pm. Single tickets start at $40. Single tickets are available by calling TexARTS Box Office at 512-852-9079 x101 or at

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From This Author Frank Benge