Review: Driftwood’s “Wait Until Dark” a showcase in sophistication

Wait Until Dark plays to October 2. This is a theater season opener you won't want to miss. Taut, Hitchcock-suspense played with precision!
Wait Until Dark plays to October 2. This is a theater season opener you won’t want to miss. Taut, Hitchcock-suspense played with precision!

Driftwood Players at
Wade James Theatre
950 Main St.

Wait Until Dark by Frederick Knott
Plays through October 2nd
Get Your Tickets Early!

Onto Wait Until Dark, British playwright Frederick Knott deftly places every fear-mongering fingerprint a playwright can devise – and Driftwood Players troupe (The Players/Driftwood) wears it well as they celebrate opening of their 58th Season.

Directed by Ian Stewart, The Players’ production races along with one explosive revelation after another through to a shattering conclusion. After each riveting disclosure, the Driftwood audience is plunged (quite literally) into a chilling darkness – until flashbulbs go off revealing the aftermath of each sinister scene.

The parallel between the intervals of pitch-dark theatre and the blindness of the play’s main character is not lost on anyone.

A Hitchcock-style masterpiece (with the stage and cinema successes that this play carries) requires that lines are delivered with precision, that the casting chemistry work, and that the stage management team and lighting team unsettle the audience in the most deliciously devious manner.

Co-producers Anabel Hovig and Joanne Branch (who has been with The Players since 1991) did an admirable job for Wade James Theatre and The Players. Congratulations on what will no doubt be a successful run. 

Director Ian Stewart, along with a huge and talented production staff delivers on every level for The Players. Sean McKay, and Vicki Lynn Maxey (as McKay’s assistant) make an incredible team as stage manager and assistant stage manager, respectively. You’ll recall both McKay and Maxey from Driftwood Theatre’s Festival of Shorts 2016. Audiences can see Maxey step into the limelight, starring on the silver screen in Customer 152; and expect to see McKay on stage with The Players in this upcoming spring’s production of Drowsy Chaperone.

Nancy Johnson manages props (a huge undertaking for this intricate production) and is ably assisted by Rex Goulding and Jan Cobb. Cobb says of the demands of playwright Knott, “Wow! The prop list went on for pages!” (Readers: You’ll see!)

Artfully Edmonds has come to expect great things from The Players’ wardrobe department and Meagan McDonald, manager, never disappoints. A theatrical “shout out” for the brilliant wardrobe choices for character Mike Talman (played by Will Lippman). The black vest and pegged pants that only a dandy would wear is divine. Mike is a gambler in life’s game! But will he survive the demands of arch-villain Harry Roat (Thomas A. Glass), or be able to outwit the heroine at the turn-of-the-table?

Also in line for deserved recognition is McDonald’s handling of actor Glass’ wardrobe. Macabre describes it in one word. The “Michael Jackson one-glove” is suddenly cast in the creepiest nuance – Eek!

Synopsis: Greenwich Village photographer Sam Hendrix (played by Jonathan Keyes) unwittingly brings danger to his doorstep by accepting to transport a doll which (unbeknownst to him) is filled with heroin. As the doll’s trail is followed by one sinister dude (Harry Roat) and two small time hoods, Mike Talman and Sgt, Carlino, blind housewife Susy Hendrix is menaced by the trio in a drawn-out game of cat-and-mouse.

But, as the production comes to a portentous climax, who is the cat and who is the mouse leaves everyone on the edge of their seat.

The Play, The Players

Knott has written a highbrow and complicated play, with a demanding script. (Knott’s sinister sister-play, Dial M for Murder, became quite famous, thanks to its treatment by Alfred Hitchcock.)

Ian Stewart reveals that Wait Until Dark “has been a challenging play to rehearse – there are many moving parts, a plot that thunders along at high speed, and the famous climax that plunges the theatre into complete darkness.”

That stated, however, if Stewart (and his well-chosen cast) were challenged by their lines or the play’s pacing, they certainly wore the mantle well. Opening night presented the audience with a flawless production, precision scene changes, props that stayed put and menacing character portrayals.

– – –

Veteran actress Caroline Rensel takes the My Edmonds News 'Tony' in the local production of "Wait Until Dark".
Veteran actress Caroline Rensel takes the My Edmonds News ‘Tony’ in the local production of “Wait Until Dark”.

My Edmonds News’ Tony Award

This one’s easy. The Driftwood Players’ production of Wait Until Dark required a veteran lead actress; and although she is new to The Players’ boards, Rensel crossed them with skill in an exacting manner.

Playing the newly blind bride to Jonathan Keyes (again, Sam, her husband) the audience held its collective breath as Rensel’s character makes her way by fingertips and sixth sense through the taut tightrope that playwright Knott has strung. The My Edmonds News “Tony” goes to Rensel. Brava!

– – –

Artfully Edmonds extends a warm welcome to Jonathan Keyes, who joins the Edmonds’ theatre scene in this production. An experienced actor (Antonio in Much Ado About Nothing, Bryan in It Happens Every Summer, and Michaels in Mother is a Freshman,) Keyes just completed Intiman Theatre’s Emerging Artist Program this past summer. Keyes portrayed “Sam” with just the right measure.

Small-time neighborhood hoodlum Will Lippman (Mike Talman) pulls off the swaggering, petty crook-ness that his role requires, making a strong debut onto the Driftwood stage. “Come back soon – and audition for The Players often,” is what we have to say to this actor who holds a BFA in Performance from Central Washington University.

Morgan Peeler plays Sgt. Carlino, and acts as the fulcrum that balances small-time crook Mike Talman and psychopath Harry Roat. You would have seen Peeler as one of The Players in Other People’s Money and Festival of Shorts 2015. He looks so sweet and lovable in his cast photo, no one would suspect him of anything as dark as this fast-money caper. Nicely played!

As the brains behind the bad guys, Thomas A. Glass excels as Harry Roat. Glass (who plays both Roat Sr. and Roat Jr.) is a stage veteran. He was last seen in The Players’ Shorts 2016 production of Stop Saying That; but also had a role on the Wade James stage as Dr. Sanderson in Harvey. Hailing most recently from Michigan, he obviously answered the call to come west – and lucky for the Edmonds’ theatre scene that he settled within striking distance of The Players stage. Glass handles his dual role with haunting precision – his vast stage experience is evident. You do not want to answer the door when Glass, as Harry Roat, darkens your doorstep.

The darling of the production is Miss Zoe Papadakis. This precocious young lady will steal any scene that she is in.

As the light-fingered little lady from the upstairs apartment, through the character evolution as protector and safe-agent to Susy, Miss Papadakis shows her chops with a commanding sense of the theatre, the development of her role, and her responsibility to fellow cast members. This young actress has a long road of theatre successes in front of her – and Artfully Edmonds wishes her well throughout this production and in the years ahead.

Tickets for Wait Until Dark (a must see!) are available by calling the box office at 425.774.9600 or visiting their online box office at

–- By Emily Hill

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