The Daily Tar Heel

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Monday January 30th

'Wait Until Dark' delivers eye-opening performance

A thriller full of suspense and mystery, Lab! Theatre's "Wait Until Dark" features an exciting plot with the interesting twist of a blind main character. The story follows Susy, a blind woman who is the target of con-men, attempting to earn her trust while secretly putting her in danger. The show opened Friday night at the Elizabeth Price Kenan Theatre in the Center for Dramatic Art, with successive performances on Saturday and Sunday. The final shows will be today at 4 p.m. and 8:15 p.m. and Tuesday at 5 p.m. Admission for all shows is free. "It's a very suspenseful show," said Ryan Tumulty, a sophomore who plays the role of Mike, one of the con-men. "Everyone I know that's come to see has it has talked about how, throughout the show, they've just become more and more engaged in the story." He said the style of the play heightens the suspense. "Every little line or movement contributes to the advancement of the plot in a very interesting and subtle way," Tumulty said. Senior Janie Bullard, decided to direct and produce the play because of its technical features. "It's very light-, sound- and scenically oriented, as opposed to other shows, which are more literature based," she said. "I wanted to do a show that was a realistic piece." Part of this, Bullard said, was because of her background as a scenic designer. "I enjoyed working on a show that cannot only let the actors explore, but also let lighting and sound and scenic designers explore," she said. The play, originally written by Frederick Knott, enjoys a 1967 film adaptation, which starred Audrey Hepburn. Bullard was afraid that viewing the film would taint the originality of the performances, so she told the actors not to watch it before the show. "When you watch the film, you tend to second-guess your first instincts," she said. "You'll find a way to say a line that is very real, but then watch the movie and it's different, and then you think maybe that's the right way." One of the most challenging elements of the show is the blindness of the main character, Susy. Played by junior Caitlin Rain, the role required extra preparation. "I did quite a lot of stumbling around in the dark," she said. "I have very bad vision, so sometimes I didn't wear glasses or contacts." Rain even rehearsed every scene at least once while blindfolded. "I tried to use my ears and my sense of touch much more than my sight to get around," she said. "I learned how to listen for footsteps and voices, instead of as I usually do, looking at other people for expressions." Rain, who is performing in her first leading role with Lab! Theatre, did not shy away from the difficult character, saying that she often looks forward to preparing for a show more than performing it. "It's been great experience learning-wise, and it's been really fun getting to explore something completely different that I wouldn't get a chance to anywhere else but in theater," she said. Friday's opening night had a great turnout, said Tumulty, whose experience in Lab! Theatre has shown him that comedies and musicals tend to draw bigger crowds than dramatic plays. "Sometimes people are more inclined to laugh or be entertained by dance and music than go to a show that requires them to think a little bit," he said. The strong turnout, he said, proved that this isn't always true. Feedback he's received from Friday's audience shows that they were not only willing to think, but were entertained as well. "At the end, they said they found themselves on the edge of their seats, which is almost more than we can ask for," Tumulty said, noting that getting the audience so involved is the best part of theater. "The best feeling in the world is when a friend or co-worker or someone you know, at the end of the show they say, 'I really, really enjoyed that. I can't wait for the next one.'" Contact the Arts Editor at


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