Nick Fuad, John Taylor, Jason Smith and Elyse Knowles in a scene from Wait Until Dark.
Nick Fuad, John Taylor, Jason Smith and Elyse Knowles in a scene from Wait Until Dark.

Surviving a dangerous night of theatre in Lismore

IN Wait Until Dark, a recently blinded woman is terrorised by a trio of thugs while they search for a heroin-stuffed doll they believe is in her apartment.

When Sam Hendrix carries a doll into the country, he sets off a chain of events that will lead to a terrifying ordeal for his blind wife, Susy.

The doll is stuffed with heroin and when it cannot be located, its owner, a Mr Roat, stages a deception to recover it.

He arranges for Sam to be away from the house for a day and has two conmen, Mike Talman and a Mr Carlito, alternately encourage or scare Susy into telling them where the doll is hidden.

Talman pretends to be an old friend of Sam's while Carlito pretends to be a police officer.

Despite their best efforts, they make little headway as Susy has no idea where the doll might be, leading Mr Roat to take a somewhat more violent approach to getting the information.

Wait Until Dark was adapted as a feature film in 1967 from the original play by Frederick Knott.

In 1954, Knott's play Dial M for Murder was adapted for the big screen under Alfred Hitchcock's direction, with great success.

In the 1967 adaptation of Wait Until Dark, mega star Audrey Hepburn played Susy, a role that awarded the actress both Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations.

With this impressive background to the story, Lismore Theatre Company continues their season of the play this weekend at the Rochdale Theatre.

For actress Elyse Knowles, playing Susy is the type of challenge she craves.

"As an actress, I particularly focus on my face, and I get a lot of feedback that I have a very expressive face, so it has been a really challenging experience to look at how to incorporate my body and to look at physical theatre to portray Susy's experience," she said.

Ms Knowles had to 'learn' to be blind for the role.

"It was challenging because the last thing I wanted was to do a stereotyped, blank-eyed parody almost," she said.

"I have actually linked to my studies. I am completing a Bachelor of Theatre and Performance at University of New England.

"I am doing a research project on how blindness is portrayed in film and stage, so I have been researching famous and not-so famous films with blind characters and the experience of people who are blind."

Co-director Kylie Fuad explained the technical challenges of the production, as the lights gradually fade on stage as the play progresses.

"There will be some minor lighting but really we'll have to rely more on the breathing to show the terror rather than facial expression," she said.

This production has been set in inner Sydney in the 1960s.

Ms Fuad said she is co-directing the play with Jocelyn Wright.

"Jocelyn is stepping up into a director role, because it is a big show and quite challenging technically, so the two of us are co-directing so I can bring my acting training and she can bring her experience organising the set, the production and the logistics," she said.

At the Rochdale Theatre, 603 Ballina Rd, Goonellabah. Performances this weekend on Friday at 8pm, Saturday at 8pm and Sunday 5pm. $20.