The audience was on the edge of their seats. Their eyes glued to the spectacle unraveling before them. Sometimes they would laugh. Sometimes they would clap. Sometimes they would sit in stunned silence, gripping the knee or arm of one of their viewing buddies who tagged along.
Such was the audience at the Troutt’s Black Box Theater as it made its second showing of ‘Wait until Dark’, a play by Frederick Knott, adapted by Laura Skaug, the director.
‘Wait until Dark’ is a suspenseful comedy about a blind woman who is in possession of a doll that happens to have heroine inside of it. Three good-for-nothings try to con the woman into giving the doll to them. When she refuses, the play takes on a wickedly nail-biting turn that had some audience members shrieking.
The play throughout has some funny scenes that had the audience cracking up. For instance when Mike Talman, played by the comedic and sensitive Ben Stonick, Sgt. Carlino, played by Daniel Hackman who dons a great New Yorker accent, and Harry Roat, Jr., played by Barrett Anderson who gives Roat a sinister side, are caught inside the house as Susy Hendrix, played by the talented Joanna Rolan, feels her way around her familiar environment, not noticing the three who have trespassed into her home. The men’s faces were priceless in this scene as they tried so hard to keep still. Hackman hid behind a rolled up carpet before he knew the person entering was blind; he was ridiculously funny.
Ben Stonick played Talman terrifically. He was smart, sensitive toward Susy at the end, and just all around a great guy. You could tell he was apprehensive about making the deal with Roat and you could see his questions throughout the play, even if he didn’t verbally voice them. The con idea was a complete struggle for the character and Stonick executed it flawlessly.
I’ve seen Daniel Hackman play in Belmont’s productions like “Biloxi Blues” and “Galileo”. He always gives a top-notch performance and with “Wait until Dark” I was not surprised with the fact he lit up the stage with his on-going energy and put-on accent. He has this way of being serious but totally candid and alive. You can tell he sinks his teeth into every character he plays and delves deep into their psyche, developing the character and bringing Sgt. Carlino to life.
Like Daniel Hackman, I have also seen Zack McCann act before. He has an air of sophistication that gives an extra boost to any play he is cast in. As he played Sam Hendrix, the loving yet somewhat critical husband of Susy Hendrix, he would walk back and forth, completely comfortable with his character. If he did have stage fright, it definitely did not show.
Joanna Rolan as Susy Hendrix made the hearts of the audience go out to her. Though Susy was blind, she was tough and Rolan portrayed that spot on. She stumbles and feels around the walls. The audience became concerned for her. In the end, when she is struggling against Roat and his plot to kill her in order to get the doll, the audience was silently cheering her on.
Barrett Anderson shined in this play. His languid but evil sound of his voice was haunting and disturbing. He had the audience clutching each other in fear in the end as everyone though he was dead because Susy stabbed him but as the stage was cloaked in darkness, he crawled from the bedroom. Anderson was amazing and gives a new meaning to the term “bad guy”. He showed Harry Roat Jr. as an authentic, 100 percent creeper. Anderson did a great job.
The play is definitely worth seeing. The comedic relief in this suspenseful play is great. With Halloween around the corner, this play is just the right dosage of fear to get the fright back into your veins.
The show runs until November 1 at 2 p.m. at the Troutt Black Box Theater.
Tickets are $4 for faculty, staff, and non-Belmont students. Belmont students get free admission.