Blind Ambition Thriller
Phil Hopkins, Travel & Arts Correspondent
Crime writer Frederick Knott only wrote three plays in his career but, like Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird, saved most of his internal angst and dark emotions for a small body of work.
And, if proof were needed, Wait Until Dark ran for 11 months on Broadway, two years in London’s West End and then became an Oscar nominated film starring Audrey Hepburn, said to be amongst the scariest ever made.
Last night it was reclaimed for the stage as visually impaired actress Karina Jones in the role of the main protagonist, Susy, stepped into the footlights and brought a refreshing authenticity to the part.
Wait Until Dark is set in 1960’s London. Blind Susy is alone in her apartment where she falls victim to a con as three tricksters, Croker, Mike and Roat, do their level best to get her to hand over a doll packed with heroin. As the tension builds to snapping-point the lights go out and Susy takes charge in a world that she knows all too well.
“Look out for the fridge” was the only warning I had been given ahead of this performance but, for all its popularity, I had never seen Knott’s play, although I’d certainly heard of one of his others, Dial M for Murder.
But the fridge was key so, ‘look out for the fridge!’
I am not usually a thriller cum murder type of man, maybe it’s my Catholic upbringing, and tend to switch off when a detective-style six-parter starts on TV, but I did enjoy last night at York Theatre Royal; maybe maturity is bringing the more violent side of my personality to the fore?
I loved the beautifully contrasting characterisations. Jack Ellis as Mike is the conman who takes Susy into his confidence, making her believe that he is a friend of her absent husband, Graeme Brookes’ Croker is a less than subtle detective, and I loved Time Treloar’s Roat in the same way that you love Anthony Hopkins’ Hannibal Lecter, calm and frighteningly understated.
This was a traditional thriller, conventional in its set, played on a proscenium arch stage and theatrically conservative in its overall staging.
But that’s good because, sometimes, people like to visit a theatre knowing what they are going to get because, deep down, we enjoy what we know is coming, even if we don’t know the punchline!
An entertaining evening of uncertain certainty, where you may guess the outcome early on, but you will love the thrill of the journey.
Wait Until Dark
Until Saturday 25th November
York Theatre Royal
Performances 7.30pm and 2.30pm (selected)
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Blind Ambition Thriller, 22nd November 2017, 15:23 PM