REVIEW: Wait Until Dark

  • National Tour, South Africa. 1989
  • The Hilton International Hotel, Singapore: August 26th-September 2nd.
  • The Regent Hotel, Kuala Lumpar: September 4th-27th.
  • The Travel Lodge Hotel, Papua New Guinea: September 22nd-October 7th.
  • The Siam InterContinental, Bangkok: October 9th-13th.
  • The Nile Hilton, Cairo: October 18th-23rd.
  • The Jordan InterContinental Hotel: October 25th-28th.
  • The Athens Hilton, Athens: October 30th-November 3rd.
  • The InterContinental Hotel, Dubai: November 6th- November 13th.
  • The Hilton International Hotel, Manaman: November 15th-20th.
  • The InterContinental Hotel, Muttrah: November 22nd-27th.
  • The InterContinental Hotel, Abu Dhabi: November 30th-December 4th.
  • The InterContinental Hotel, Al Ain: December 6th.

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 Character: Harry Roat.

 “Now all the children are in bed, we can talk”. Harry Roat

Mike (Roy Boyd) and Croker (Tony Caunter) are two petty crooks who, prior to a five-year stretch in Wormwood Scrubs prison, had worked as part of a trio of confidence tricksters who’d call upon some lonely and unsuspecting housewife, claiming to be friends of her husband. Their intention was to dupe her out of her life savings.

The brains of the outfit, however, was a beautiful and talented girl by the name of Lisa, who could be young or old, French or Italian…

It transpires that both men had fallen for her and would make little passes at her when he thought the other wasn’t looking. Finally she became bored of them; made an anonymous phone call to the police, and then disappeared, taking all their loot with her.

Now it seems that Lisa is back in town…

ACT I – SCENE I

A basement flat in an old house in Notting Hill, London. It’s a Friday evening.

The genuine appearance of the room is quite masculine and practical. The furniture is mostly inexpensive, second-hand stuff – bought and repaired by the tenant, Sam Henderson (Paul Blake), a professional photographer.

There are two vertical windows, with bars on the inside. In the corner is a refrigerator, and above it an illuminated clock which Susy (Helen Gill), Sam’s wife (who is blind), can feel. The room is completely silent until there are two soft knocks on the hall door. Mike enters and looks around him, suspecting that someone might already be there. He tries the bedroom door and, when hearing the front door open, he steps back into the shadow.

The front door creaks open, slowly, and Croker appears – standing in framed of the doorway, listening. He pulls from his pocket a brass knuckleduster. As he’s doing this, the bedroom door bursts open and Mike makes a dash for it. It’s obvious by the reactions of both that neither had known the other would be there.

At first, Croker thinks that the flat belongs to Mike, who’d been released from prison only a few months before. However, when he notices the woman’s clothing in lying around the house, he soon changes his mind. It transpires that both men had been summoned to the flat independently of each other by a telephone caller who they’d believed to be Lisa.

Suddenly, there’s a knock at the door. Mike signals to Crocker, who slips on the knuckle-duster and tiptoes towards the door. He slowly unlocks it to find a slim man standing outside with a dilapidated rug under his arm. Completely ignoring Croker, the man pushes open the door and forces his way in.

Addressing Mike as Mr Trenton, the man introduces himself as a messenger from the party who’d contacted the two men earlier. He identifies both villains, before introducing himself as Harry Roat (PETER WYNGARDE).

Croaker enquires whether Roat is working for Lisa, or whether Lisa is working for him. Studying Crokers knuckle-dusters, Roat replies dryly: “We’re all working for Lisa!”

Sensing an atmosphere of mistrust, Roat reaches into his jacket pocket and introduces the two men to his “protection”; a five-inch long ivory figure of a girl – a girl with a deadly secret. He presses her once very gently and out springs a sleep switchblade.

“Her name’s Geraldine”, he announces. “Isn’t she beautiful?”

Mike and Croaker glance at each other nervously, where upon the latter gestures towards the coffee table where he’d placed his knuckle-duster next to a razor blade belonging to Mike. Picking up both items, Roat moves slowly away from the table: “She’ll act as a referee”, he remarks, menacingly, when Croaker suggests he return the knife to his pocket.

Roat then hands a wad of notes to the men, which both count greedily. He explains that the reason they’ve all been summoned to this particular locality, is to find a child’s doll which had been given the Sam Henderson two days earlier at Amsterdam Airport which, he tells the, contains just under two pounds of pure heroin. Sam, it seems, had taken the toy from Lisa, who’d sold him a fable of her sick daughter who was in Great Ormond Street hospital. She’s hoped to retrieve the toy when she returned to England, but had been unable to locate it in the flat.

He expounds that Lisa, posing as an Italian actress, had made an appointment with Henderson to have portraits taken at his London studio that evening, and that he’d been seen leaving the flat with his wife. The coast was clear – at least for a short time.

To be on the safe side, Roat decides to call Henderson posing as Italian restaurant owner, ‘Giano’, to apologise for ‘Ms Liciana’s’ late arrival, but adding that she’d be along directly.

As I it were all a matter of routine, Mike and Croaker immediately set about searching the flat. Whist Mike goes through to the bedroom, Roat goes through his plan for the following day, when Henderson will receive another call, this time from a proud grandfather who wishes to have photographs taken of his family. Whilst Henderson is away, Roat hopes that they might be able to persuade the wife to hand over the doll of her own free will.

As Roat begins to pack away his things in a zip-bag, he suggests that Croaker and Mike leave first so as not to raise any suspicions. Mike, meanwhile calls from the bedroom for the key to the wardrobe, which Road had claimed Lisa had left on a ledge above the door. On his return to the living room, Mike questions Lisa’s willingness to share her secrets with Roat, and suggests that she’d have only done that under duress. Again, he asks for the wardrobe key.

Taking a step closer to Mike, Roat draws the knife from his pocket and flicks open the blade. In response, Mike picks up a camera tripod and tosses it to Coaker. Mike then arms himself with a wooden kitchen chair.

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When things take a turn for the worse, Harry has to defend himself with his flick-knife.

Hopelessly at a disadvantage, Roat returns ‘Geraldine’ to his pocket and hands the wardrobe key to Mike, who immediately returns to the bedroom. After a moment, Mike re-emerges – his face ashen and shocked. He takes from his pocket the wad of notes Road had given to him earlier, drops it to the ground and makes for the door.

In spite of Mike’s protestations, Croaker can’t suppress his curiosity, and goes to the bedroom himself. “Lisa was too clever, Mike”, Roat declares. “I felt certain she knew where it was, and then… too late”.

Croaker charges into the living room, and frantically starts wiping down any surface he thinks he might’ve touched. As the two men head for the door, Roat reminds them that they’re already involved; after all, HE is not an ex-jailbird, so no police officers will be looking for him!

They immediately begin to recognise the predicament they’re in the two crooks reluctantly agree to help Roat dispose of Lisa’s body by rolling her in the old rug, and carrying her to their van outside. Road again goes through the plan for the following day – highlighting one significant difference; they were working for him now, not Lisa.

At that moment Roat hears the distinct tip-tap of a cane in the corridor outside, and realises that Susy is approaching the flat. He gestures to Mike, who runs and stands behind the front door. Crocker, meanwhile, picks up the old rug and switches off the bedroom light. All stand silent in the semi-darkness – none of them daring even to breathe.

Susy opens the door and moving surly and quietly through the flat, calls out to her husband. She heads towards the bedroom, and feeling that the light switch is in the ‘on’ position, she again calls out to Sam. Realising at last that she’s alone, she picks up the telephone receiver and dials Sam’s studio number.

Following a brief conversation, Sam encourages his wife to walk out to meet him. His studio is only a couple of blocks away off the Kensington High Street. She agrees, and after hanging up the phone, starts to make her way back towards the door. She’s surprised given she knows the layout of the flat so well, that she accidently bumps into the kitchen chair that Mike had left out of place earlier. She pauses momentarily, then cries out, “Gloria!” – the name of a young girl she’s befriended from the flat above.

As if speaking to the three men directly, she calls out again: “Oh, come on – I know you’re there. You can’t fool me, you know!” Again she listens for a moment, but thinking she’s mistaken, proceeds on her way out of the door

ACT I – SCENE II

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Harry makes a proposition to his partners in crime.

It’s approximately 4.15 on Saturday afternoon. Sam is using the room as a photographic darkroom, with blackout curtains over the windows.

While busying herself with the laundry, Susy asks her husband if he’s hear anything about a murder the previous night. He says he hadn’t so Susy continues by telling him that a body of a young woman had been discovered wrapped in an old rug not far from them. Sensing her apprehension at the thought of spending the evening alone in the flat, Sam offers to cancel his appointment in Brighton and stay home. Typically, she refuses, telling him not to be silly – she’ll be fine.

A Sam heads for the door, he promises to call the moment he arrives in Brighton. He goes on to remind her that she might also receive a call from the lady about the doll, and asks her to apologise on his behalf as he’d not yet been able to find it. He suggests that she ask Gloria if she’s seen it, or at least help her look for it.

Closing the door behind him, Susy appears a little depressed at the prospect of a long, lonely evening in front of her. As she walks towards the kitchen with an armful of washing, a cigarette that Sam had left in an ashtray begins to smoke. She stops and tries to locate where the smell is coming from. After calling out to both Sam and Gloria without a response, she begins to panic, and runs towards the door where she trips and falls. Managing to pull herself together, she reaches for the phone and dials 999.

Just then, she hears a man at the door calling her name. Dropping the ‘phone receiver, she turns in the direction of the voice, which goes on to introduce itself as that of Mike Trenton – an old friend of her husband.

Forgetting completely her trepidation of spending the evening alone in the flat with a murdered on the loose, Susy happily asks Mike in, and within a moment he’s located the burning cigarette and extinguished it.

When Susy finally calmed down, Mike explains that he’s on a rare visit to London from Bristol, and since he was passing, he thought he’d drop in on an old friend. Mike goes on to say that he and Sam had been in the same Army regiment, and to make his story more plausible, recounts a couple of old stories of their adventures together. He’s suddenly interrupted by the sudden arrival of 12-year-old Gloria (Annabelle Lanyon), who has let herself into the flat.

Gloria’s arrival appears to spook Mike, who makes his excuses and leaves, leaving a Susy bemused and hollering after him to drop in again whenever he’s in London. The girl tells Susy that’s she’d just called for a shopping list, which is duly handed over to her. But just as she prepares to leave on her errand, there’s a knock at the door, which Gloria answers on her way out.

Gloria finds a man of around 70-years of age standing in the hallway, who seems rather eccentric in both appearance and manner. He’s wearing a hot over white, scraggy hair, and although his voice sounds old and husky, he looks uncannily like the figure of Harry Roat. He asks if he might speak to Mr Sam Hunt, but Susy informs him that no one by that name lives there. Accepting of her answer, the ‘old man’ asks if he might have a drink of water, but as the young woman turns to head for the kitchen, the ‘old man’ makes a dash for the bedroom – bursting across the living room and then reappearing carrying several books and framed wedding photographs – all the time yelling, “And you tell Sam Hunt – if he doesn’t leave her alone, I’ll kill him!”

Somewhat conveniently Mike Trenton returns, claiming to have left a parcel behind, and immediately pretends to give chase when the ‘old man’ darts past him. When Trenton returns, Susy is naturally very grateful to him, and she tells him how the ‘old man’ had just barged past her into the flat. Trenton offers to call the police, knowing that the call will only get as far as Detective-Sergeant Croker who is waiting in a phone box at the end of the street.

ACT II – SCENE I

Twenty minutes pass until Croker arrives dressed in a hat and raincoat, and enters the flat – notebook and pencil in hand. He takes the necessary details from Susy, but just as he’s about to leave the telephone rings. The caller asks for Croker who, during the course of the call mentions, amongst other things, a doll.

After taking the call, the ‘Policeman’ begins to ask Susy about her husband whereabouts on the previous evening, explaining that he’s investigating the suspicious death of a young woman whose body had been found in the area. Croker had noticed Susy’s reaction when he’d spoken about the doll moments earlier, and decides to continue with that particular line of enquiry – much to Mikes ‘annoyance’, who points out to the ‘Detective’ that Mrs Henderson need not answer any more of his questions. Croaker leaves, slamming the door loudly behind him.

A minute or two passes, and the doorbell rings. Mikes opens it to find Harry Roat standing outside. He’s wearing a dark suit and black leather gloves, and sounds short of breath. “Good evening, Mr Hunt?“ he begins, but before Mike is able to correct him, he’s through the door and inside the flat. Susy suddenly recoils – an instinctive movement which both men notice. They cast a glance at each other.

Roat asks if, per chance, an elderly gentleman (his father), had called on her earlier that afternoon. She replies that he had, in fact, been quite rude. At that moment, Gloria appears in the doorway carrying a large bag of groceries. Mike, fearing that she might recognise him, turns away to hide his face but Roat, stares at her quite deliberately.

Apologising profusely for his ‘father’s’ behaviour, Roat explains that some years earlier, his wife had taken a holiday abroad and that she’d become acquainted with a photographer by the name of Sam Hunt. His ‘father’ had told him that she’d continued to see him from time to time, even though she’d always denied it. The previous Sunday, he and his wife had been invited to dinner at his ‘father’s’ house, but she arrived late saying that she’d been to see friends who were going abroad the following day, and that she’d wanted to give them a musical doll which his ‘father’ had broken recently.

Susy appears startled, but apart from a knowing glance in Miles direction, Roat brushes it off as if of no importance. Susy asks where ‘Mrs Roat’s’ friends were heading: “Amsterdam”, he replies, quite matter-of-factly.

Roat continues to tell her that the doll had been of great sentimental value to his wife, and that the friends had offered to take it back to Amsterdam to have it repaired. He discovered later that the toy had been given to “Luciana” by Sam Hunt. He claims that a note had been posted under his door giving the address of the Henderson’s flat, and when his wife had failed to return home, he’d decided to call on the off chance that he’d find Hunt home.

When the telephone rings, Susy looks too stunned to answer it, but when Mike moves towards it, Roat raises a gloved hand and gestures to him to let Susy take the call. When she doesn’t move, Mike finally picks up the receiver. It’s Croaker.

Mike informs Roat that the call was in relation to his ‘wife’, and that his father has been taken to the police station in Bayswater. Roat departs, leaving the front door wide open behind him. When Susy’s sure Roat has gone, she confides in Mike about the doll. With Mike’s assistance, she discovers that a wedding photograph of her and Sam had been removed from her dressing table, and she suggests that it must’ve been the ‘old man’ who’d taken it.

Glancing through the window, Mike tells her that there’s a police car parked across the road… and they’re watching the flat!

ACT II – SCENE II

An hour has passed since Roat’s departure, and by the state of the flat, it’s evident that Mike and Susy have been busy searching for the doll.

With Mike alone in the living room, the phone rings and he answers it. He relays a message to Susy that he husband will be home later than planned. While Susy feels she should wait until Sam gets home before continuing their search, Mike manages to persuade her that they should carry on so that they might destroy the doll and anything else that might connect Sam to ‘Mrs Roat’ before the police return.

Reluctantly, she hands Mike a set of keys to just about every door and cupboard in the flat including, Mike hope, the large safe in the corner of the room. He waits for Susy to go into the bedroom before trying three of the most likely keys in the large cast-iron lock. None of them work.

When Susy returns to the living room, Mike bring up the possibility of the doll being in the safe, but she tells him that it’d been left there by the previous tenant, and that neither she or Sam had ever seen the key. With almost ever avenue seemingly exhausted, Mike tells her that he must go and check out from his hotel, but assures her that once he’s collected his belongings, he’ll return.

With Mike gone, Susy returns to the bedroom. The room remains empty for a moment or two, until the sound of a key in the front door lock breaks the silence, and Gloria slips in. She’s carrying what appears to be the same bag of groceries she had before, but as she tip-toes across the room, she removes the much-sought-after doll from the bag and tucks it under the corner of the sofa to make it look as if it’s fallen there by accident. As she tries to leave in the same manner as she came in, Susy re-enters the room and catches her red-handed.

Susy asks Gloria if she’d take a look out of the window to see if the police car is still there. Gloria replies that it’s not, but there is a white van parked next to the phone box across the street, and Croaker has just got out of it. Both Gloria and Susy agree that Roat is probably a police officer, too.

The girl turns from the window to make her way to the sofa, where she reaches cautiously for the doll, which plays two or three notes of its tune. Susy turns sharply, and asks Gloria to hand her the toy. She immediately instructs the child to lock all the doors, and then desperately tries to find a place to hide the doll. She finally elects for the washing machine under a pile of laundry. She now tells Gloria to go upstairs and watch through the window, and to let her know should anyone get out of the van to use the phone.

In spite of all their precautions, Croaker somehow manages to gain entry to the flat via the back door, and tells a startled Susy that the body of a woman that’d been found the previous day was that of ‘Mrs Roat’. He goes on to say that he firmly believes that the doll, which was given to her by Sam hunt, is hidden somewhere on the premises. However, Susy refuses to allow him to search for it, and demands that he gets a warrant.

Before leaving, Croaker quietly slips the latch on the door, then slams it before stepping out into the street. Immediately Susy reaches for the phone and dial the number that Mike had left her. She tells him that she has the doll, and confides in her her suspicions about Roat.

Given the ease at which Croaker managed to get into the flat, she decides to check the back door to make sure it’s locked securely. At the moment the phone rings, and she turns back sharply hoping it might be Sam, but it stops after the second ring. Suddenly it dawns on her: What if Mike is in with Croaker and Roat?

For a moment she stands silently not knowing what to do, when suddenly she hears Mike at the door. He’s not alone. Both Croaker and Roat are with him – the latter of whom, still dressed in his dark suit and black leather gloves, stares coldly at Susy.

ACT III – SCENE I

Mike, keeping up the pretence, asks Susy where the doll is so that he might destroy it before the police arrive. She asks him to wait a moment, then disappears into the bedroom. When she re-emerges, she’s wearing a coat and carrying handbag. Picking up a small knife from the coffee table and a set of keys, she tells Mike that the doll is locked in Sam’s desk at his studio. Roat and Croaker look at each other in horror.

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PETER as Harry Roat makes himself at home in Susy’s flat.

Roat, still as cool as steel points to Mike, instructing him to offer to go. He does, and after tossing him the keys, Susy takes off her coat and lies back on the sofa. Mike exits through the front door, and both Croaker and Roat follow him. When she’s sure they’ve gone, she picks up a large, heavy saucepan and bangs it three times on a pipe in the kitchen. After a few moments, there are a trio of muffled knocks on the front door. It’s Gloria.

Together, Susy and the girl cover the windows with Sam’s darkroom curtains, and between them the break every bulb in the flat and remove the fuses from the electric meter. Susy then begins mixing a cocktail of ammonia and oil, which she pours into an old vase.

Satisfied that everything’s in place, Susy instructs Gloria to go to Victoria Station where she’s to wait for Sam’s train getting in from Brighton. Next, she locks the back door and then she takes a kitchen knife and hides it in the washing machine with the doll.

Act III – Scene II

The room is lit only by a torch on Sam’s workbench. Susy is sitting at the kitchen table, with the vase and a box of matches in front of her. Suddenly, there’s a noise at the back door, and simultaneously someone tries the handle of the front door. There’s a quiet knock. It’s Mike.

She hears the sound of something being pushed between the lock and the door, and after several seconds of impatient rattling, Mike enters. Susy tells him that she’s known all along that he’d been working with the two other men, and that she doesn’t believe that her husband is responsible for the death of Roat’s ‘wife’.

She goes on to tell him that the doll’s in the safe and that the door is unlocked. Mike picks up the phone and dials a number. Based on what he says, it’s evident that he’s talking to Croaker, as he instructs him to kill Roat.

As rings off, Mike moves towards the safe but finds that it’s locked. Susy lunges sharply for the phone, but before she can dial 999, Mike knocks the receiver from her hand. However, the sound of a car engine and sound of a man’s voice in the mews behind the flat draws Mikes attention, and Susy is able to wrest herself from his grasp.

Becoming increasingly agitated, Mike calls out that he’s going to leave. Susy promises not to tell the police about him if he’ll leave her husband alone. He agrees. However, as he reaches the door and turns to take one last look at her, he freezes, and with a look of horror on his face, falls backwards onto the floor.

Harry Roat enters, closes the door behind him and locks it. He wipes the blade of his knife on his sleeve and slips it into his pocket. “Well, Susy”, he calls out menacingly. “Now all the children are in bed, we can talk”.

ACT III – SCENE III

Harry Roat drags Mike’s body into the bedroom while Susy, terrified and shaking, attempts to make her war to the front door. But before she makes it across the room, Roat re-emerges from the bedroom and blocks her route. He tells her Susy that there’s no point in her hoping for Sam’s early return, since as a message had been sent to him advising that his wife had been taken to St Mary’s Hospital after a fall: “He’s probably there right now.”

Calmly Roat asks her for the doll, but she refuses. From his zip-bag, he produces a light, chiffon scarf which he flings into the air above Susy’s head. As it brushes against her face, she recoils violently, and as it tangles between her fingers, she backs away. Finally, it falls to the floor, and he watches intently as if it were some kind of experiment.

Susy backs further and further away until the back of her legs touch the table. Again he asks for the doll, and again she refuses – slowly manoeuvring around until she’s standing close to where she left the flower vase. Again and again he asks for the doll, but she remains silent. Roat reaches down and picks up the scarf, and from his bag produces a small can of petrol which he starts sprinkling around the room. At the same time, Susy picks up the box of matches from the table and slips them into the pocket of her skirt.

When he’s finished, Roat places the petrol can on top of the safe and moves slowly toward Susy. As he touches her lightly on the arm, she throws the contents of the vase in his face and he reels – his hands flying to his burning eyes. He backs away. Susy makes a lunge at the torch on Sam’s workbench, but she trips over a chair and falls. This gives Roat an opportunity to recover, and seeing what she’d intended to do, he reaches the lamp before her. As Roat tries desperately to turn on the lamp, Susy kicks off her shoes – Roat flicks open ‘Geraldine’.

Roat throws the knife in Susy’s direction. It misses her head and sticks in the wall behind her, and a split second later the lamp crashes to the floor. Susy listens intently as Roat moves towards the back wall to retrieve the knife, where he searches clumsily. Neither of them speak. Roat stands perfectly still as his breath gradually quietens until Susy can barely hear it at all. He strikes a match and finds that he’s standing next to the workbench. Susy is across the room near the safe with a kitchen knife in one hand. With the other, she feels for the petrol can then turns towards Roat. When he sees what she’s about to do, he lunges at her.

Aiming in his general direction, she begins dousing Roat with petrol from the can, then strikes a match and holds it out towards him. In response, he surrenders his own matches – tossing them on the floor at her feet. Gradually, Susy begins winning round after round, and starts to talk to Roat rather like an experienced teach talking to a rebellious child.

She throws him a key and tells him to go into the bedroom and lock himself in. Road, however, has other ideas, and makes a dart for the front door. Susy reacts by striking another match and holds it at arm’s length in front of her.

With a match in one hand and the knife in the other, Susy takes a few steps towards him. Scrambling in the darkness, Road pulls out a kitchen chair and, like a lion tamer, taps his knuckles on it so Susy knows exactly where he is.

At first, he taps out an irregular beat, but then changes it to a more precise tempo until, finally, he’s beating a hard, sharpe, slow rhythm – punctuated by his words. At the same time something sinister creeps into his voice, as if he’d just had an idea and is daring her to guess what it is: “It’s funny. When most people plan something (Tap! Tap! Tap!) – however clever they are (Tap! Tap! Tap!) – they overlook…”

As the tapping stops, Roat’s voice begins to move further away. He reaches the kitchen and opens the refrigerator door. It immediately makes a loud hum and it throws a dim light onto Susy. Roat grabs a towel and loops it around the hinge on the door to keep it open. Again and again she tries to to close it, but always a slim streak of light comes from it. In her desperation she drops the knife, which Roat kicks away just out of her reach. Terrified, she finally agrees to give him the doll.

Susy reaches into the washing machine and produces the doll, but unbeknown to Roat, she slips the kitchen knife she’d hidden earlier up her sleeve. She carried the doll to the kitchen table, where she carefully slips the knife out of her sleeve and holds it behind her back. Meanwhile, Roat slits open the doll and pulls out several small packets of white powder. He fetches his zip-bag and puts the packets inside – as he does, the doll starts to play a few notes of its musical tune. Collecting the rest of his things together he stars towards the door then notices his box of matches on the floor. He picks them up and rattles them as if for Susy’s benefit. He orders her to the bedroom.

Roat takes the key from Susy’s pocket, saying that he’s only doing to her what she intended to do to him. He puts his hand gently on her elbow to guide her, but she shakes him off then obediently, heads towards the bedroom. He follows behind.

Once at the door, Roat abruptly attempts to push Susy inside, but she turns and catches hold of his coat. Initially, he doesn’t see the knife she’s holding, and she stabs at his – once, twice, three times, just missing. He tries to step back, but she holds tightly onto his coat and won’t let go. In the struggle they’ve managed to trade places, so now she’s outside the door, but she continues stabbing wildly, until she falls backwards and loses her grip on the knife. She feels around frantically, but can’t find it, so she retreats back into the living room –smashing up against the safe and almost knocking herself out. She recovers, and tries to reach the front door, but Roat pounces but falls, grabbing at Susy’s feet. He spots the knife and grabs at it, while Susy frantically tries to close the ‘fridge door and deprive him of his only light source. Roat stabs the knife into the floor, and pulls himself along like a reptile. Susy freezes and listens to him crawling nearer and nearer. She grabs wildly at the refrigerators electrical cord, and begins shouting for help; her voice half strangled so that barely a sound comes out. Road slides ever closer: “I’ll help you, Susy!”

Again she grasps for the electrical cord, but finds her way barred. Roat hauls himself up, using the shelves in the fridge as a ladder. Once steadied, he raises the knife and hurls himself at Susy. Again, she goes for the cord, and this time is successful; the light goes out, leaving the room in complete darkness. At that second, there’s a loud bang and the door flies open with a splintering crack. In rush two policemen, their torches darting about the room until one of them halt on Roat’s body. One of the officers (James Gill) goes over to him and shines a light directly at him. Roat is hanging in a contorted position; the sleeve of his jacket caught on one of the refrigerator shelves.

As the second officer (Chris Jacobs) heads towards the bedroom, and begins opening draws and cupboards, the first policeman continues to cast the torch around the room until suddenly he spots the tiny flicker of a match which Susy is holding out in front of her, as if for protection. Suddenly Gloria appears in the hall doorway, then pushing past the two policemen, she blows out the match and takes Susy by the hand.

Gloria begins to move anything that might be in Susy’s path and then begins to lead her towards the door. Sure that she’ll be able to make her own way out, Gloria finally releases her and the two policemen follow her to the door with the light from their torches.

As she reaches the door, Sam appears and holds out his hand, and for a moment, she gropes around to find it. Everyone is very still, and as Susy finally takes Sam’s hand, the curtain falls.

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PETER and Helen Gill in a publicity photo for Wait until Dark.

Dark Facts

  • Since the story had originally been set in 1966, PETER re-wrote much of Harry Roat dialogue to bring it up to date.
  • The ‘Wait Until Dark’ tour was sponsored by aviation giants, British Airways.
  • The play’s producer was Derek Nimmo, who’d worked with PETER 27 years earlier in ‘Duel of Angels’
  • James Gill, who played one of the police officers, also directed the play.

THRILLER PROVES A BIG HIT

The latest Hilton Playhouse is rare entertainment indeed. A brilliantly constructed thriller, it builds tension scene by scene until the audience is left gasping for breath.

Fredrick Knott’s play manages to be spine-tingling without being harrowing. There are laughs here as well as terrifyingly uncertain moments.

PETER WYNGARDE as the psychopathic criminal who sets up two small-time crooks to con a blind woman into giving them a heroine-stuffed doll conveys the right mixture of threatening sanity and craziness.

Helen Gill as the recently blinded woman who know her husband is away for the day is vulnerable without being pathetic and convincingly resourceful. Roy Boyd and Tony Caunter are amiable petty crooks caught up in something they can’t quite handle.

The play never flags, moving smoothly from small dramas to even bigger ones, and culminating in an unforgettable scene in which the cast manage still to pull off surprises. A welcome change from farce, and a thoroughly gripping evening.

Gulf Daily News – Sunday, November 16th, 1986


The Hellfire Club: The OFFICIAL PETER WYNGARDE Appreciation Society: https://www.facebook.com/groups/813997125389790/

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