Orange County Theatre Reviews

Written by Daniella Litvak 

A common complaint about movies and tv shows these days is that they devolve into overindulgent CGI-fests.  Sure, entire galaxies could be at stake or an endless horde of zombies could overrun humanity, but sometimes when the scope is so broad and the images are so over the top, the ability to connect with the story on an emotional level is lost.  Theater in general, and plays like Wait Until Dark in particular, are a great reminder of how stories with smaller stakes and more intimate settings can be far more intense than any blockbuster.    

Wait Until Dark is set in late 1960s.  On his way home from a business trip, Sam Hendrix (Saeed Marandi) was asked to take a doll home with him.  What Sam didn’t know was that the doll was stuffed with heroin.  Now three conmen played by Jerome Haley, Jayden Leacock, and Shane Monaghan are desperate to get their hands on the doll.  Once they get Sam out of the apartment, they figure it will be easy enough to con the doll’s location out of Suzy (Emma Hutchinson), Sam’s blind wife.

Wait Until Dark is excellent at tapping into the fears of being on your own and in the dark — in more ways than one.  It’s a bit of a slow climb, but it’s worth it because the climatic showdown really has you on the edge of your seat.

Wait Until Dark (1967)

I watched the play unfold, and I thought this could work as a movie. I learned afterwards there is a film adaptation starring Audrey Hepburn, but a movie couldn’t possibly capture the suspense and tension the way the stage version does.  Being in the same space as the actors makes you feel as afraid and as trapped as Suzy does — even more so at a smaller theater.

Actors:

This is a play that relies a lot on the actors’ ability to sell it.  Fortunately, they do. Emma Hutchinson as Suzy and Jereme Haley as the conman Harry Roat Jr. are the standouts.  There is a lot of nuance to the part of Suzy.  She could’ve been written as the sweet but helpless blind woman, but she isn’t.  Meanwhile, Haley as Roat are absolutely terrifying from start to finish.

The set is well designed. One glance instantly tells you the setting is the 1950s/1960s. There are places for characters to hide or pop out of.  Most intriguing of all is how the light design becomes crucial to the narrative.

Wait Until Dark is a captivating tale, and it definitely gives you an experience that just wouldn’t be as thrilling if you didn’t experience it live.

Feb 8 – 24, 2019 

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