Theatre / “The 39 Steps”, Adapted by Patrick Barlow from the novel by John Buchan; directed by Jarrad West. At Theatre 3 to July 1. Reviewed by LEN POWER
FREDERICK Knott’s play, ‘Wait Until Dark’, which premiered on Broadway in 1966, is a sinister and entertaining thriller and Jordan Best’s production at Canberra REP delivers the goods.
Originally set in New York, this production has moved the locale to London. Three crooks try to trick a blind woman into handing over a doll filled with drugs accidentally brought back from Amsterdam by her husband. They soon discover she’s no pushover.
The role of the blind woman is a tour de force for an actress and Jenna Roberts, totally believable as a blind woman, gives a terrific performance of real depth in the role. As the main crook, Harry Roat, Zach Raffan gives a strong performance as a charmer who soon shows his true colours as a vicious and determined killer. Riley Bell nicely captures the character of another crook, Mike Trenton, who has a fatal human streak and Annabel Foulds is delightful as the feisty schoolgirl neighbour, Gloria.
Thrillers like this with their intricate plotting need a very specific set design and Michael Sparks has designed a beauty. You could move in and live comfortably in this basement flat with its attention to detail. Properties by Imogen Thomas blend in beautifully with the set design. Anna Senior’s costumes are perfectly in period and suit characters going about their everyday business.
Darkness is just as important as light in this play and Cynthia Jolley-Rogers’ lighting design for this play is superb. At first, the sound design by Matthew Webster worked quite well as a type of cinema underscoring, but became too obtrusive as the play went on.
Jordan Best has achieved a high standard in direction once again with “Wait Until Dark”. If you enjoy sitting in the dark feeling deliciously scared, this production will certainly give you that experience.