Blind ambition: ‘Wait Until Dark’ a bona fide thriller

By on October 16, 2019

For the theater lover who isn’t a fan of musicals, Lancaster County is a great place to be. Most theater companies offer at least two to three plays a year.

Fulton Theatre is offering an entire series.

The Ellen Arnold Groff Studio Series of plays are staged in an intimate, fourth-floor theater in the Fulton complex.

I continued my October fright-fest with a showing of “Wait Until Dark.” Lucky me! I scored a seat in the front row.

The quick and dirty, non-spoiler plot is this: a woman, recently blinded in an auto accident, finds herself at the epicenter of a dangerous smuggling gone wrong. She uses her other senses, and the help of a trouble teenage girl who lives in her building, to thwart the threat to the lives of her and her husband.

I saw the 1967 film version of this play (starring Audrey Hepburn) when I was in my early teens, and it scared the bejabbers out of me. I knew what I was in for.

The show

The cast of “Wait Until Dark” is made up of only six actors, and each was terrific.

Katherine Fried, who played blind newlywed Susan Hendrix, was spot-on. She was no victim, yet had a genuine vulnerability. It must have been terribly challenging to be so facially expressive yet still give the impression of being blind. She didn’t drop character for a second.

Kudos also go to young Carly Evans, who played Gloria — a headstrong and wounded teenager who vacillated from being a help to being a hindrance, and back again, as the drama unfolded.

Zack Calhoon (Harry Roat) did some great accent work, and had a great deal of physicality to his role.

The crew

I loved the look of “Wait Until Dark.” Props on-stage, as well as the music, quickly established the time frame as the mid-1940s. Scenic design and props (down to the smallest detail) were on-target, thanks to William James Mohney and Katelin Walsko.

Ambient sound was expertly handled by Matthew Moran. So was the silence.

Darkness played a key role in this particular play — not only the perceived darkness that Susan Hendrix constantly lived in, but actual darkness that we, the audience, found ourselves in at the climax of the show.

Lighting designer Mary Lana Rice had her work cut out for her, but she used light and darkness perfectly to further the plot and heighten the tension. At one point in the action, it felt like the light was shining directly on me. Maybe that was the idea.

“Wait Until Dark” is a perfectly-timed Halloween season offering. It will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Upcoming Groff Series offerings include “An Act of God,” “The Whipping Man,” and “Fun Home.” Tickets for them, and “Wait Until Dark,” showing at the Fulton through Oct. 27, can be purchased at thefulton.org or by calling 717-458-1010.

Features editor Melissa Hunnefield welcomes your comments and questions at mhunnefield.eph@lnpnews.com.

 

Below is a gallery of stills from the production. Click a photo to enlarge. Photos by (Kinectiv).

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