MOUNT DESERT — Just in time for summer, the Acadia Repertory Theatre in Somesville is bringing chilling suspense to the stage in the form of Frederick Knott’s much-loved classic, “Wait until Dark.”
“There are at least a few perfect plays in the American theatrical canon,” said Acadia Rep Producing Director Andrew Mayer, “and two of them were written by Mr. Knott: this one and ‘Dial M for Murder.’ Each of them features a strong female heroine, neither of whom initially displays much in the way of heroic potential, but instead must dig deep to find it inside of herself over the course of the play; each play displays a fiendish, nearly OCD level of detail in its stagecraft; and each forces both the actors and audience into a rigid focus on the playwright’s every syllable in order to keep track of all that amazing detail. Plus, of course, both plays keep the audience in heightened state of suspense right until the very last moment.
“Knott seemed to take inspiration from his contemporary playwright Agatha Christie, who displayed a similar level of obsessive attention to detail. His plays have always struck me as attempts to out-Christie the master herself!”
The play, which is probably most familiar to audiences from the indelible 1967 film starring Audrey Hepburn and Alan Arkin, is set in a Greenwich Village “garden-level” apartment. In this half-underground, confined but initially cozy space, newlyweds Suzy and Sam live a happy life, with their only hardship being Suzy’s having lost her sight in an accident. When Sam inadvertently brings a doll full of contraband into the apartment, and a loose gang of criminals shows up to retrieve it, a cat-and-mouse game begins. Suzy must press her major advantage: that she can navigate just as well in the dark as in the light!
This highly theatrical play plunges the characters and audience into the dark, both figuratively and literally. The play’s director, Mike Kissin, says of the audience, “Our goal is to scare the heck out of them!” A perfect show for a summer’s night on Mount Desert Island, “Wait until Dark” runs daily except Mondays through July 26.
And continuing all summer is the 29th incarnation of the Rep’s Children’s Theatre Program, Cheryl Willis’ new adaptation of “Hansel and Gretel.” Fully embracing the Acadia Rep’s motto of “The last thing you want at a children’s show is a restless adult,” this version of the classic Grimm Brothers tale again offers up the zany and unpredictable style that has become its trademark. Children in the audience will enjoy the familiar story told in a new way, and the children’s grownup companions also will appreciate the larger story in which it’s wrapped. The proceedings are orchestrated by a young girl (played by Virginia Day) who pulls her family away from their electronic distractions and involves them in playing out the story. Will the Gingerbread House prove too much of a temptation? Will Hansel and Gretel escape a terrible fate at 425 degrees? This fractured fairy tale plays every Wednesday and Saturday morning at 10:30 a.m. all summer.
The Acadia Rep offers Season Subscriptions at a 25 percent savings. Call the box office at 244-7260 or visit www.acadiarep.com.