by Margery Sharp
The media often numbs us to the reality of crime, bodily harm, and disaster. Playgoers will find the Shelburne Players’ production of “Wait Until Dark” by Frederick Knott a compelling representation of a crime ably directed and staged by Adam Cunningham. Although written in the sixties, last week’s opening night performance held the rapt attention of the audience with a thrilling story that “could happen anywhere, anytime.”
Adam Huff, as gentle Sam Hendrix, and his blind wife Susy establish themselves as an innocent couple who are threatened by what director Cunningham describes in his program notes as “…[the] introduction of subtly malevolent forces amid decent people.”
It is difficult to take on the character of a blind woman threatened with both physical and emotional distress for two and a half hours, but Amy Riley as Susy Hendrix did an amazing job interpreting this young blind woman. She never missed a beat in her choreographed movements around furniture, through doorways, and upstairs. Her taut body language heightened in act two reflecting both her fear and her resolve to not be entrapped by the increasing danger in which she finds herself. The prolonged applause at play’s end was testament to her fine performance throughout.
Two recently-released jailbirds out of food, money, and luck are the semi-comic foils in Knott’s play when they arrive in act one and “bumble” randomly about Susy’s basement apartment not knowing what to do next. Roy Cutler as Mike and Dan Cimaglio as Sgt. Carlino both did a good job playing the hapless pair, forced unwittingly to become part of a dangerous trio when the scheming Harry Roat, played by G. Richard Ames, appears.
As the polished but menacing Roat, Ames’ left no doubt this smooth operator would pay any price necessary to meet his ends.
Kudos to Briege Riley who played Susy’s neighbor, 10-year-old Gloria. Briege took her time, paused between speeches and delivered her lines without rushing them. Costumed appropriately for the sixties she wore a skirt, saddle shoes, and sweater. Popular sixties music was played before the play began and again between scenes. It was well chosen and accurately reflected the time period in which the play was set.
Three more performances of this thriller will be held on Nov. 20, 21, and 22 at 7:30pm at Shelburne Town Center. You won’t want to miss this masterfully constructed play as it moves from one moment of suspense to another until its breath-stopping final scene.
Tickets are $15 general, $12 students and seniors, and can be purchased in advance at Shelburne Supermarket or reserved at www.shelburneplayers.com.