“Wait Until Dark” provides thrills just in time for Halloween
Firehouse Theatre Project’s latest offering complimenting the impending Halloween season is “Wait Until Dark,” a thriller written by Frederick Knott and directed by David Emerson Toney.
Susy, a blind woman played by the incredibly talented Ciara McMillian, is married to Sam, a photographer played by Saidu Tejan-Thomas.
Without his knowledge, Sam has smuggled a doll containing heroin into the U.S. from Canada.
A couple of thugs, Mike, played by Nicklas Aliff, and Sgt. Carlino, played by Phillip Silva, are recruited by the supremely evil and underhanded Mr. Roat, played by Frank Britton, to find the doll under the pretense that they will all strike it rich.
Sam goes out of town on business leaving Susy alone at the apartment, where she is occasionally looked after by a young girl who lives upstairs named Gloria, played by Victoria Eriavez.
While Sam is away, Mike stops by pretending to be an old friend of Sam’s. With Mike on the inside making nice with an unsuspecting Susy, Mr. Roat and Sgt. Carlino hope to gain access to the apartment and locate the doll.
Unfortunately for them, Susy turns out to be a lot craftier than all three men expect.
Ciara McMillian gives an amazing performance as Susy. She is strong, energetic and extremely authentic. Her character has not been blind for terribly long, I believe it was less than a year before the audience meets her, and I think that McMillian does an excellent job tackling the challenging role.
Nicklas Aliff is appropriately cast as Mike. Unfortunately, this role is very similar to several others Aliff has performed on the Firehouse stage and I, for one, am eager for him to take on a slightly different character, aside from the fast-talking tough guy roles he finds himself type-cast in.
Frank Britton is beyond creepy in his role as Mr. Roat. He elevates this production to its desired level of thriller, which may not have been achieved without him. Victoria Eriavez is a standout in this production. Her accent is particularly impressive and the interactions between McMillian and Eriavez are expertly directed by Toney.
This is a very physical play with a pretty decent amount of deception, violence and overall unsavoriness, and Toney expertly directs this cast in the emotional sphere, with Alexis Black and Brandon Sterrett contributing to the direction of the fight choreography.
The set by Edwin Slipek is fantastic. Slipek consistently creates amazing, multi-dimensional sets for the Firehouse. His sets appear so expansive it is a wonder how he is able to accomplish such a feat on the modest Firehouse stage. The costumes by Margarette Joyner are appropriate for their 1960’s setting.
However, it is the lighting design by Geno Brantley and the sound design by Joey Luck that are the real standouts in this production, as many of the effects in the show require precise and exact timing, which were executed perfectly.
“Wait Until Dark” is playing at Firehouse through October 18th.
Visit www.firehousetheatre.org for tickets and information.
Jen Maciulewicz is theatre critic for GAYRVA.com and is a Richmond local. Jen attended VCU and holds a B.S. in Anthropology. She has starred as Reno Sweeney in Cole Porter’s “Anything Goes" and attended VCU’s School of Music. Follow Jen on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jenlaumac.
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