Ticketmaster Summer in Stages

Wait Until Dark

Frederick Knott
Garrick
(2003)

It may be dated and contrived but Wait until Dark has enough surprises and charm to deserve its success. Over the years since 1966 when it was written by the author of Dial M for Murder, its casts on film or stage have included Audrey Hepburn, Quentin Tarentino and Honor Blackman.

This latest revival stars a very sinister Peter Bowles doing a good imitation of late-vintage Marlon Brando, together with Saskia Wickham as the blind Suzy. She hardly puts a foot wrong as she wanders around the stage fighting three 1960s crooks. The other two are played by TV stars, Gary Mavers from Peak Practice and Tony Scannell who plays Ted Roach in The Bill.

Knott's carefully worked plot sounds as if it would make a good Ortonesque farce with its melange of drugged doll, locked safe, blind woman, murderers playing policeman and even a plucky little girl (Bettrys Jones). In fact it makes a very entertaining chiller with genuine surprises and some quite good laughs.

The unlit highlight is a kind of murderous chess match that is very well orchestrated by director Joe Harmston. This is where the 60s kitsch is forgotten and tension takes over.

The talented Bowles has fun donning various disguises and putting on silly voices while Miss Wickham is 100% convincing as the blind Suzy.

Rather like the very successful Woman in Black, this may not be high art but Wait until Dark has the combination of star names, plot twists and traditional values that appeals.

Reviewer: Philip Fisher