Review: Wait Until Dark at Cambridge Arts Theatre

Graeme Brookes and Tim Treloar in Wait Until Dark

Graeme Brookes and Tim Treloar in Wait Until Dark - Credit: Archant

Frederick Knott’s thriller Wait Until Dark, first staged in 1966, is a piece of theatrical history. Whether it should be taken off the shelf, have the dust blown off it and staged again 50 years later is another question.

Certainly, there are three meaty parts for men offering great chances to show their range and Jack Ellis, Graeme Brookes and Tim Treloar really make the most of that. Treloar is completely sinister and threatening as the psychopath Roat. Anyone would be scared to meet him on the stairs - a masterpiece of menace here.

Jack Ellis as Mike, the good guy bad guy, and Graeme Brookes as Croker, the bad guy fall guy, offer adept and slick performances in all their personas.

Karina Jones, playing the heroine of the piece, the blind young woman Susie, really is registered blind not that you would have known that from her athletic, Avengers style, performance,

There is not much to laugh at here but Shannon Rewcroft as the 12-year-old Gloria did a lovely job of lightening the play - she had the best lines and knew what to do with them.

Designer David Woodhead must be congratulated on the set, which brings the play to life and it’s refreshing to see a creation with so much attention to detail.

It is interesting to see a play set in a time we can remember (some of us) but such a world away - when telephones had to be attached to the house or in a box in the street. When to reach someone who was travelling you had to phone the railway station and ask for a message to be relayed over a Tannoy. When photographers needed dark rooms.

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But, as it happens, theatre hasn’t stood still either, acting is much more naturalistic now (so much so that half the lines of televison are lost to mumbling for the sake of it).

Special effects have become more sophisticated to that what was once frightening, now seems tame. So though it is interesting to see how theatre has changed, that doesn’t mean we want to go back there.

The play is a curiosity not a classic. It is past of theatre’s past and that is where it belongs.