BOILING SPRINGS - A favorite of community and college theatre groups for almost 50 years, "Wait Until Dark" is also the finale of Allenberry Playhouse's 2013 season. The theatre will offer 1 p.m. matinees today and Nov. 2, 3, 5-7 and 9, with 7:30 p.m. performances tonight and Nov. 7.
Playwright Frederick Knott (who also penned "Dial M for Murder") knows how to build tension in this popular drama, which premiered on Broadway in 1966. The 1967 film adaptation starred Audrey Hepburn , who created a buzz playing the blind woman, earning her a Best Actress Academy Award nomination.
Although the term "home invasion" was rarely used in reporting break-ins until recent years, this two-act drama focuses on a home invasion.
Set in a Greenwich Village basement apartment , a recently blinded Suzy Hendrix is learning to cope when she becomes the target for three con men searching for a doll. Her photographer husband Sam had transported the doll from a Canadian airport as a favor for a woman who was soon after murdered. Sam was totally unaware that the doll was stuffed with heroin, but the trio of thugs are bent on retrieving the doll at all costs.
Roat is the leader who tries to convince Suzy that the only way to save her husband from prosecution for drug smuggling is to turn the doll over to him.
Although she may be blind, Suzy is savvy and doesn't tell them that she has already given the doll to a youngster, Gloria, who lives in an upstairs apartment.
One of Roat's cohorts in crime shows up as Sargent Carlino, trying to harass Suzy, while another thug plays Mike, a fictional friend of her husband who just happens to stop by for a visit. In a nicely developed scene, Suzy, still a bit naive, starts to trust in Mike, who then slowly begins to sympathize with her.
But after a couple of murders, the final battle, played in pitch blackness (or almost) is between Suzy and Roat.
Artistic Director Rogue Berlanga directs "Wait Until Dark" with brisk pacing on a level that keeps each of the three con men from acting like cartoonish vicious thugs.
Heading the cast is Carson Elizabeth Gregory as Suzy, a difficult role for a sighted actress to play, especially without darkened glasses. On stage for almost the entire play, Gregory keeps her glance and focus consistent. With the help of Gloria, she "sees through" the deadly plot.
Gloria plays a pivotal role as she must change from being a snotty, mean child to a mature and resourceful aid to Suzy. Emily Robinson plays Gloria with Eden King assuming the role for matinee performances.
Peter Ripple, Craig Shimek and Anthony Genovese are effective as the seedy con men who end up as collateral damage.
For the tension to build in the climatic final scene, there must be just the right blend of light, ranging from total darkness to varying degrees of illumination. Only then can the audience see the frantic fatal fight and what happens before Gloria and the police burst into the apartment.
Though the plot has several improbabilities, those who enjoy suspenseful dramas will find "Wait Until Dark" a very entertaining theatrical experience.
For more information or to puchase tickets, call 717-258-3211 or visit www.allenberry.com.