Scare tactics

Wait Until Dark

Scott Devine threatens Kristine David in Wait Until Dark<i>.</i>

Scott Devine threatens Kristine David in Wait Until Dark.

Rated 4.0

Frederick Knott’s Wait Until Dark—a Broadway hit 40 years ago and a film with Audrey Hepburn later—has a single purpose. It’s a thriller, as pure as they come, in which a young blind woman is forced into a deadly, dimly lit battle for survival against a ruthless killer. The script establishes the characters and setting (a basement apartment with only one exit) and then raises the tension by degrees, leading to a desperate finale designed to scare the wits out of as many people in the audience as possible.

That’s the goal, and the Woodland Opera House’s production gets the job done. This high-end community show features a strong cast of experienced local actors, including young Kristine David and David Campfield (veterans of many River Stage shows), and Scott Devine (a regular at the Actor’s Theatre of Sacramento and Main Street Theatre Works). Director Dean Shellenberger carefully ratchets up the sense of menace, and the set by Doug Keowen is a beauty, including falling rain visible in the windows to the street above.

The story is timeless, but the script shows its age in one regard. The young woman’s husband is a photographer who uses their apartment as a darkroom, with an old-style enlarger and a red “safe light” that becomes part of the plot. Younger viewers, raised with digital cameras, may need an explanation of what the old equipment is for.