Wait Until Dark
Though he is not as well known in the genre as his compatriot Dame Agatha Christie, when it comes to murder mysteries Englishman Frederick Knott takes a backseat to no one. Knott's stage plays include Dial M for Murder (a Broadway hit in 1952), which succeeded twice as a screenplay, first as the Alfred Hitchcock thriller by the same name and later as A Perfect Murder (1997, starring Michael Douglas and Gwyneth Paltrow), and later Wait Until Dark (Broadway, 1966), which transfixed film goers with gripping performances by Audrey Hepburn and Alan Arkin.
Currently, the original stage version of Wait Until Dark, featuring the directorial debut of veteran local actor Marcus Waterman, is in production at the Arvada Center for the Arts. Unlike so many pieces in this genre that rely on lengthy recitations of facts to set up the premise, Knott's craftsmanship shines as the story unfolds through natural circumstances and interactions. Coupled with Waterman's precise direction and an outstanding cast and crew, Wait Until Dark quickly builds a head of steam and drives towards its dramatic confrontation.
Maura Barclay Gingerich, just off her success in Stop Kiss at the Phoenix Theatre, is fresh and convincing as the vulnerable yet resourceful, recently blind Susy Hendrix, who suddenly finds herself at the mercy of two con-men and a cold-blooded killer. William Hahn is gleefully duplicitous as the quick-talking Mike Talman, the con with a conscience. Duane Black makes our skin crawl as the psychopathic Harry Roat, Jr. All the supporting performances, including Cajardo Lindsey, Eric Lawrence and Madison Ryckman contribute to this well-executed classic. Laura K. Love's set evokes the details of the '60's and is perfectly functional for the finely tuned action.
The Arvada Center's production of Wait Until Dark runs through February 25th. The box office number is 303-431-3939.