Wayside’s ‘Wait Until Dark’ perfect for the season
Middletown — Wayside Theatre’s “Wait Until Dark” is the perfect production for this time of year with a mix of suspense and mayhem and frightening characters.
The action builds until the final scene when the audience isn’t sure if the main character survives the terrifying ordeal.
Thomasin Savaiano plays that character, Susy Hendrix, a young blind woman who has to out maneuver three criminals to survive.
She does a superb job in the part, including walking around the apartment by touch with her eyes wide open. It was an amazing performance for someone who has the gift of sight to portray someone who does not.
She is very convincing and takes the audience on a trip of falls and blunders when she is trying to maintain her thoughts and composure among a group of shady characters who want to find something they think she has.
The plot twists and turns add to the mystery and suspense as her husband, Sam Hendrix (Darrell Johnston) leaves her alone for the day with no knowledge of what lurks around the corner.
Set in the 1960s, the story revolves around a doll Sam has been asked to bring home by a stranger. What the doll contains attracts the criminal element to the apartment.
The three bad guys — Mike Talman (Eddie Staver III), Sgt. Carlino (Jody Lee) and Harry Roat Jr. (Benjamin Reed) — come and go so often to try and trick her that the audience is left reeling from the constant door closing and multiple entrances and exits.
All three give admirable performances of shifty characters who are not above tricking the handicapped. And Roat is even capable of far-reaching deeds that go beyond the small crook category.
Natalie Youngblood as the young Gloria, a neighbor child who helps Suzy with trips to the grocery store and other tasks.
Youngblood is very effective and convincing as a rather precocious 9-year-old youngster, who is fearless and whose actions affect the outcome of the story.
But one of her deeds actually caused most of the action and events of the plot.
Youngblood shares the role with Vivian Sansoni but played Gloria Sunday for the opening of the fourth production of the 51st season.
The stage was functional with the New York City Greenwich Village apartment set up for someone who can’t see. It used the entire space with living room and kitchen visible.
Sets by Zach Fullenkamp were authentic with period appliances and furniture and a functioning window blind that sends signals.
Music by sound designer Steve Przybylski adds an element of suspense and intrigue especially as the movement is impeded by the lack of sight.
Lighting by Wes Calkin is crucial to the plot as the action in the final scene is in total darkness and no one knows for sure the outcome — who survives and who doesn’t until the light is restored.
Costumes by Caleb Blackwell are effective and functional as thieves portray upstanding citizens.
The production, directed by Rebecca Calkin, is slow the first half but quickly moves along in the second. It is definitely a must-see for those who want a fright for Halloween and to find out who survives.
“Wait Until Dark” continues through Nov. 3. For tickets, contact 540-869-1776 or visit waysidetheatre.org.