Progress Theatre - Wait Until Dark
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Progress Theatre - Wait Until Dark

22nd February to 3rd March 2007.

From the Newbury Weekly News.

Tense thriller keeps audience gripped

Wait Until Dark, at Progress Theatre, Reading, from Friday, February 22 to Saturday, March 3

If mobile phones had been around in Agatha Christie’s time, she’d have had to rethink some of her plots; keeping people incommunicado no longer makes sense. Frederick Knott would have had similar problems with Wait Until Dark, which he wrote in 1966.

The tone of the thriller is set from the outset as two suspicious men separately enter a darkened room and are joined by a third man, Roat. They are looking for a heroin-filled doll, but find a body instead. The three of them weave a complex plot to deceive the flat’s owners, Sam and Susy Henderson, in an attempt to recover the doll.

Kate Rees, in her first role with Progress, played the blind Susy. As the programme notes say, acting blind is very difficult, and Kate Rees managed it extremely well. With all the comings and goings in her flat, she became increasingly neurotic until the climactic denouement with Roat, where the balance of power kept shifting between them. Her character would have benefited from more variation in pace and tone – she was quite shrill a lot of the time – but she clearly has a lot of potential.

Phil Ridout was excellent as Roat; suave and in control, and every inch the baddie. Howard Timberlake was ex-con Mike, very convincing when pretending to be Sam Henderson’s friend and gaining Susy’s trust, only to have his cover blown when he is spotted using the nearby phonebox.

The other ex-con was Croker, played by Sam Kennedy. Croker was not as smart as Mike or Roat and there was always the danger that he would give the game away. Suzy’s 13-year-old neighbour Gloria was played by Josie Hoggs (and by Josie Anderson on some nights). This was not a big part but it was an important one, and she brought a convincing maturity to the role.

Other parts were played by Luke Banham (Sam), who hopefully will get a bigger part in a future production, and Martin Davies as a policeman.

The set, designed by the director David Supper, was technically challenging but worked very well. The pace never flagged and the tension of the thriller was maintained throughout. The production did, as promised, keep us on the edge of our seats.

PAUL SHAVE