Just in time for Halloween, Gaslight Playhouse (Noble County’s longest running community theatre) presents Wait Until Dark. This psychological thriller, made famous by the film starring Audrey Hepburn, was performed on October 12, 13, 14, 20, and 21. It was directed by Bob Avery and Jo Drudge. The plot follows the story of two con men- Mike Talman and Sargent Carlino (played respectively by Josh Shepherd and Gavin Replogle), led by the mastermind, Harry Roat, Jr. (played by Andrew Canaveral)- who try to con a blind woman, Susy Hendrix (played by BreAnn Weeks), into obtaining a doll of hers, that is, unknown to Susy, filled with heroin. This doll is the catalyst that sparks the rest of the events in the play.
The show was opened by co director Jo Drudge saying, “If you don’t have chills running up your spine, we haven’t done it right.” I can assure you, it was done right. While the show isn’t gory or bloody, the plot is just as, if not more, horrific. From the very start of the show, you’re on the edge of the seat. One con man enters Hendrix’s dark house, performs several odd actions which seem to be secret signals, before hiding. The second con man enters sneakily but catches the first con men by surprise, as neither can see who the other is. They are ready to attack each other, until the light turns on and they recognize each other. The silent uncertainty followed by the screaming as they are about to attack, is very jolting. A few minutes later, a mysterious man shows up, posing as a rug salesman, but reveals his identity as he comes in the room. A murder has already taken place, assumedly by the mysterious man. A body is never seen, just reacted to offstage, but the seemingly harmless rug that the mastermind holds, is used to dispose of the body. The scene cuts before this is acted upon, but the implication of the harmless object being used for something sinister, and that he was planning to use the rug in advance, is very disturbing, and sets the tone for the rest of the show. While there are many dark moments in this show, comedy is sprinkled throughout the dialogue to balance out the suspense.
An unintentional but scary part, in my opinion, was the transition from each scene to the next scene. The pitch-black room and eerie music made it feel like something could jump out at any moment. The most anticipated part of the play is when Susy Hendrix, the blind woman, is trapped with Harry Roat, the mastermind psychopath. This game of cat and mouse, in which the roles of predator and prey shift back and forth as the scene progresses, is thoroughly entertaining and leaves you on the edge of your seat the whole time.
The play was performed at the Chamber of Commerce, which may sound like an odd place to have a performance, but Gaslight Playhouse pulled it off spectacularly. The set design made it seem like you were in Susy Hendrix’s house, which in a way, you were. There is no ‘stage’ to separate the actors and the audience, so you were basically in the house with them. There was a moment when the villain flourished his knife straight at me while standing a foot away from me. Also, when seeing the stage fighting so close, it looked like someone is being stabbed which further drew you in. This more personal setting led to the play feeling less like just a performance, and more like an experience that you are a part of.
To sum it up, Gaslight Playhouse did an exceptional job of presenting this show, and I am excited to see what else is in store with their season. If you want to find out more about Gaslight Playhouse, visit their website at https://www.gaslightplayhouse75.com/.