Saturday, October 13, 2012

REVIEW: Don't Wait to See Love Street's Dark Thriller "Wait Until Dark"

First of all Frederick Knott's "Wait Until Dark" (1966) is an extremely well-written stage play. (He also wrote "Dial M for Murder.") I believe that "Wait" is one of the best straight plays I have ever seen--certainly the best thriller. The dialogue is delightful, the pace is perfect and the intrigue is artful. It is so well conceived and so captivating that I sat on the edge of my seat the entire time.

The Plot

You know how they warn you at airports not to accept packages from strangers? Yeah, well this is what could happen if you do:

A photographer unwittingly agrees to transport a doll from Montreal to New York not knowing the doll contains two pounds of high grade heroin. He leaves the doll at home with his blind wife and, while he is away, three thugs come looking for it. They concoct an elaborate con to get it back, but she doesn't know where it is. They grow impatient and desperate and, when she begins to figure out what's going on, things get violent and quite scary.

From Left to Right: Sgt. Carlino (John McCamish), Harry
Roat (Paul Segren) and Mike Talman (Scott Clark), Susy
Hendrix (Dorinda Toner) and Gloria (Doris McCamish). DEP

The Players

Secondly, the players handled the material with great aplomb. Director David Roberts has assembled a nearly perfect cast. They did not overplay their roles so the play would be comedic--they seemed natural, real and well fleshed out. Neither did they underplay the parts so the show would come off blase'.  Performances all around were genuine.

Nine year-old Doris McCamish did quite well as the adventurous and feisty Gloria. While not greatly experienced, the youngin shows great promise. Scott Clark as con man Mike Talman was so smooth you had to love him. And John McCamish (Doris' father) as Sgt. Carlino, another con man, played his heavy with just the right chutzpah. It was nice to see Kirk Snead back, and Carl Haeger in their bit roles as policeman, too.

But the leads...oh!

Dorinda Toner and Paul Segren. (c) DEP
Dorinda Toner (who is not blind) as the blind Susy Hendricks was, in a word, convincing. Wonderfully played with all the right emotion, intensity and guts. You could feel her fright and revel in her resolve. Lee Remick was nominated for a Tony for her Broadway performance in 1966; Audrey Hepburn was nominated for an Oscar and Golden Globe in 1967 for the film adaption. Toner, she would have received them.

Paul Segren, whom I was very pleased to work with in "An Inspector Calls," was masterful as Harry Roat, the maniacal mastermind. He was like an ogre (or onion), with many layers, each peeling back, one by one, until a crazed and savage psychopath erupted into a raging fury. So subtle at first, so conniving and creative, calm, cool, collected until...BAM!, he completely snaps in the second act. (I felt there should have been one quick "tell" in the first act that would have broadcast this side of the character's personality.) Segren has got to be one of the very best actors in the area. (See our previous artist profile piece, here.)

And the last scene? Wow! Absolutely unnerving. Toner and Segren sell it!

BUT...all of this would not be possible if not for the quality direction by David Roberts. I directed Roberts in "Inspector," but I feel ashamed; I had no idea I was directing a master. He is so much better than I. Everything seemed so well orchestrated. Every detail attended to. There was great intentionalism and inspired foreshadowing at his hand.

And, he played the part of Sam Hendricks. I have seen Roberts act in five plays. While not a broad actor (he seems to play everything the same way) he is quite professional and precise. He's like Bruce Willis who is always Bruce Willis, but you love it.

The Play

Technically the play went off without a hitch and there are a lot of tricky lighting cues. The scene changes were quick and courteous. Timing on everything seemed spot on.

Segren, McCamish and Clark on the set of "Wait Until Dark" (c) DEP
The set, designed by Roberts and crafted by Jeff Leuthold, was Love Street's best yet. I loved what he did for my "Seven Keys to Baldpate" and "An Inspector Calls." Then his set for "Mousetrap" was even better and now this. Leuthold just keeps plussing himself.

The lighting and the lack there of (see the play and you'll understand), by Joe Jenkins was ideal. It wasn't bright, but, hey, this wasn't a musical; it was perfect for the play. [Note: Jenkins has been the LSP resident LD since 2008, but he has just moved to Utah. He will be greatly missed by all of us who have worked with him.]

A good shot of the set. Photo by Gregory E. Zschomler.
Andrea Adams (Stage Manager and Assistant to the Director), Melinda Leuthold (Producer, Costumer, Properties and Set Dresser), and the running crew of Rebecca Reich (Board Operator) and Rebekah Krohn (Backstage) all did their jobs beautifully.

The Love Street Playhouse production of "Wait Until Dark" is a must-see. My only real criticism? They should use a doll that's actually big enough to pack two pounds of heroin. And that's being petty. So just go see it...

...unless you're afraid of the dark.

WARNING: Some of the play does take place in complete darkness and some other moments may be too scary for young children.

Now showing 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturdays, October 12 - 28 with a special HALLOWEEN performance, October 31st at 7:30 p.m and Sundays at 2 p.m. The playhouse is located at 126 Loves Ave in Woodland, Wash. and is worth the drive.

For tickets visit or call 360-263-6670 or email

By Gregory E. Zschomler
All photographs, by Darcie Elliott Photography, provided, except as noted.


  1. I very much enjoyed the play, also. I agree with two very minute weakenesses. I thought there should have been a teeny hint in the early act that he was on the edge. Also, the doll was too small and flimsy to convince me it was filled with drugs. I thought the cast had their parts down pat. It certainly did not have the opening night feel with weak acting. Fabulous job!

  2. Okay, the director informed me that the script/line says the doll's total weight is 2 lbs and that 8 oz. of that weight is its music box. Still the doll's a tad small. I was also informed that the doll "malfunctioned" opening night; when it was cut into some of the contents were supposed to "snow" out. -GEZ