Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

October 16, 2011

Wait Until Dark

Suffield Players, Suffield, CT
through October 29, 2011
by Shera Cohen

Suffield Players are particularly skilled at mounting murder mysteries. This play is the real thing, edge of your seat two hours of theatre. After the final applause, the audience leaves with the communal feeling of exhaustion. That is a powerful statement of cause and effect. The troupe accomplish exactly as planned for “Wait Until Dark.”

The play’s title succinctly describes the plot. Our heroine is a blind woman who is physically and figuratively in the dark. What happens to her in one day is a terrifying test of her metal. Susy unknowingly becomes entrenched in the middle of drug trafficking and murder as she is pitted against three strong sighted men.

Photo by Larry Bilanski
Karen Balaska’s phenomenal success in portraying Susy is her physicality. She plays blind with a capital “B.” Her stance, movement, and manipulation of props are perfect. At the start, Balaska’s character is plucky and na├»ve. We see gradual changes as her intelligence and inner sight dominate. Susy’s motivation to stay strong and fight is first and foremost for love of her husband. However, Danny Viets is miscast as a too-young and too strict mate, making Susy’s emotional commitment confusing. But Balaska makes us believe.

The first two villains on the scene are portrayed by Bill Mullen (Mike, faux friend of the husband) who effectively becomes the big lug bad guy with a conscience, and Zach Grey (Sergeant Carlino) who plays smugness well. Enter Konrad Rogowski (Harry Roat) as “the brains” of the operation. Rogowski’s acting is the epitome of super psycho intellect. Roat is a relentless crazed man. Young Emma Rucci (teen neighbor) does a fine job as Susy’s smart and smart-alecky ally.

Director Robert Lunde could have taken the easy road on many scenes, particularly those set in pitch dark. Lunde introduces the play, telling his audience that some sections will be completely black. So, it’s not a spoiler to write about the success of these unseen scenes. A  lesser production might have resorted to sound effects to cover up the action taking place in the dark.  Instead, the undoubtedly battered and bruised actors, running on a small stage in the dark (Balaska and Rogowski in particular), and the less battered director, treat the audience to a realistic, powerful ending.