"WAIT UNTIL DARK," A NEW VERSION, GIVES CHILLS AT THE CHAIN THEATRE IN LIC
By Roger Gonzalez
The last 20 minutes of "Wait Until Dark", now playing at the Chain Theatre in Long Island City, are intense and worth the price of admission. I won’t reveal exactly what happens because that would take away a huge part of the thrill of this exciting tale. In this new version of the classic original by Frederick Knott, the excitement and tension is still very much present and that’s really all that matters. Jeffrey Hatcher recently adapted the 1966 classic and set it in 1944 Greenwich Village, made some changes to the story line and the relationship between the characters, and with the content of the doll. Everything else pretty much remains the same. Personally, I don’t really see the point. Even less, I can’t see why it was moved and set back in 1944. But that’s my opinion. Some will enjoy a fresher take on the story and perhaps it might be said that it’s a little more "raw and realistic" than the original. Let the audience decide. This version, to me, was as exciting as the original in thrills and fine story-telling.
Before I get to the review of this show, let’s talk for a second about this venue (The Chain Theatre) which is lovely and cozy in so many ways. I love when new theaters are opened and this one really pleased me. Not only is it convenient (10 minutes away from Midtown, half a block from the Court St. Station on the 7 line and 2 blocks from the G, E, M lines), but is has a great little art gallery in the lobby and a nice little concession at the box-office. And here is the clincher: the way they set up the play, with seats so close to action, is what takes this play to a whole new level. It's like finding yourself in the thick of things or like being in the apartment with the characters and facing the same peril.
The set is absolutely beautiful and realistic, from the rain dripping outside the window when the play opens to the props and set pieces on the stage. The refrigerator and stove are authentic and the lighting is clever and perfect and draws you in from the moment you enter. For this former set designer (yup, I did that too), there is nothing more pleasing than this attention to detail. Too often these days, productions expect you to pay full price to see a classic play in nothin more than a less expensive black-box theatre. I appreciate that they invested in such a set. Production Design for WAIT UNTIL DARK is by Aaron Gonzalez (John Leguizamo’s Ghetto Klown) with sound design by Greg Russ and additional sound by Roy B. Yokelson of Antland Productions. Excellent is all I can say!
The play itself was great fun too. Much rides on the abilities of our blind protagonist, Susan Hendrix, and Christina Elise Perry certainly delivers. From the minute the play opens, you get the sense that this young woman is blind and vulnerable in unimaginable ways. There is no doubt that she is about to go on a journey that will test her and perhaps scar her forever. Perry is talented and focused and real in the part.
As the psychotic Roat, company founder, co-director and actor, Kirk Gostkowski, is a menace. His “Roat” is weird and at times funny in a scary, disturbing way. His final scenes are fun to watch. He is threatening from the start and if you don’t already know the story, there are moments that will surprise and shock you and give you an added jolt. Overall, every character carries his or her weight in terms of performance and has standout moments during the play, including Paul Terkel as Mike, Patrick Pizzolorusso as Sam Hendrix, David Rey as Carlino, Kelsey Bowens as Lisa. But I would not feel right if I didn't point out one performance in particular: a special shout out goes to the young Schuyler Press who plays Gloria. She was spot-on perfect and does an outstanding job. This youngster has a future in acting.
I did have issue with one minor detail and that has to do with – of all things – hair. While Susie is perfect in costume and hairstyle and so are some of the other characters, some of the men could have used a haircut and some proper grooming to be more representative of the period. To me, its a minor detail, but one that bothered me. If you can live with that (and I did), go so see this play because it has some great thrills, was well-directed by John Arthur Long and Kirk Gostkowski and has some lovely production qualities. I can see this group going in a great direction and I am already looking forward to their next production.
The performance schedule for WAIT UNTIL DARK will be Wednesday – Saturday evenings at 8pm with 2pm matinees on Saturday and Sundays October 30th – November 14th.
Tickets are $18. Certain discounts are available; please check the website for further details.
Tickets are available through www.VariationsTheatreGroup.com or by calling 866-811-4111. The Chain Theatre is located at 21-28 45th Road in Long Island City, just ten minutes from Times Square via the 7, E and M and G trains to Court Square Station.
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