‘Wait Until Dark’ was written by English playwright, screenwriter and lawyer, Frederick Paull Knott renowned for his intricate crime-related plots. Knott was born in China to wealthy English missionaries.

Knott wrote very few plays, but his first masterpiece was the 1952 BBC TV play, ‘Dial M for Murder’, the rights of which he sold for 1,000 pounds, was made into a film by Hitchcock. He based the central character of the tennis champion on his own Wimbledon standard sporting achievements. In 1966, ‘Wait Until Dark’ was made into a film by Terence Young and starred Audrey Hepburn who was awarded an Oscar.

Fremantle Performing Artists are presenting their gripping performances on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings at 7.30 until 30th October, with Saturday matinées at 2.00 pm. The performances are in the Actors’ Hub, 129 Kensington Street, East Perth. The venue is a 5-minute walk from Claisebrook Train Station. Street parking at weekends and in the evenings is FREE – but be early.

Bookings:  TAZ Tix 9255 3336

Scene:   the 1960s. An apartment in trendy Greenwich Village.

Set:        The front door is rear central. The crowded kitchen impressively contains sink unit, fridge and washing machine. The dining area has a smart teak table and four chairs. The coat-stand is next to the door and the three-seater, grey material couch to the right. A side door leads onto the bedroom. With all of the everyday props, the set was genuinely ‘lived in’.

Lighting:              This venue has a good lighting grid with a fine selection of LED lamps. The operator (sorry do not know the name) was first class, never missing a cue.

Makeup:              Emily Calderbank

Stage manager:                 Alexadra D’Ulisse, well done.

The 2-room apartment door opens and a well-dressed man with a knife in his hand enters. He is Mike Talman (Brett Hamilton – originally played on stage by Quentin Tarantino – but sorry, not for this production) a local thief and conman. With only the streetlight from the kitchen window, he searches around for a musical box doll. Seconds later another man, a bit of a ruffian, Carlino (Dennis Sing) enters – he too is looking for the doll. The two men know each other and often work as a team, with Carlino always claiming to be a police sergeant. The third gang member Roat (Rachel Kahan – beautifully underplayed, but still chilling) arrives and announces that their money troubles will soon disappear. The search for the doll resumes.

Panic ensues as the attractive young housewife, Susy Hendrix (Jessica Patrick or understudy Alexadra D’Ulisse – whom I saw on opening night) arrives. However, they soon realise she is blind and that the photos strung up around the room are Sam Hendrix (Brenton Foale), her photographer husband’s prints drying and that she cannot see them. Suzy is aware that someone is either in, or has been in, the flat, but she blames the boisterous and bolshie young girl Gloria (Ella Haynes), who does the daily shopping for her.

The three conmen act out a scenario where a neighbour has supposedly been murdered. Did the doll ever exist? Will Suzy be murdered?

The play’s ending has been ranked tenth on Bravo’s ‘The 100 Scariest Movie Moments’ for its final climactic scene: it was also ranked 55th on the American Film Institute’s hundred best thrills over a 100 Years. With a reputation like this to emulate, this reasonably inexperienced cast showed that with good direction from Brenton Foale and his assistant director, Alexandra D’Ulisse,  coupled with extensive rehearsal, even the impossible can be achieved, but keep concentrating on your performance. Many congratulations to a tremendous team. A small suggestion – one of the characters had to be seen as playing two other people, I felt that a larger amount of subtlety would have helped in the deportment and costume.

Alexandra was most convincing as the blind girl. Tremendous performance from 11-years old Ella as the painful young neighbour. Loved Rachel’s hand language.

With the intimate atmosphere of this theatre, the audience were ‘in’ the sitting room whilst the turmoil took place. With such a beautifully made film, and first-rate cast, my expectations were quite low, however, this tense thriller genuinely built up the conflict and horror – and held it! A rare theatre shocker, recommended.