The words that come to mind when I think of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center's current production of Wait Until Dark: exciting, breath-taking, scary, macabre. Also insightful, dramatic, and smart. And funny. Creepy. Fast paced. Unrelenting. Cool.

Suffice to say, I liked it quite a bit. Wait Until Dark starts out full of tension and menace- and ratchets it up from there. After a beautiful opening image of a figure silhouetted in a doorway, we are plunged headlong into a world of mystery and intrigue and terror. I don't want to give too much of the plot away, so I won't tell you what happens. What I can tell you is that in the story, over the course of less than twenty-four hours, we witness a blind woman named Susan's harrowing encounters with malice, cruelty, and deceit. As she deals with a series of bizarre encounters, she is forced to find a strength and resilience that she doesn't seem to sure exists at the start of the play. What makes the play work- and oh does it work- is not just the tightly written plot, the spectacular stage combat (more on that in a minute), or the scares- of which there are many. No, what makes this story work so well, especially as directed by the always amazing Scott Levy, are the nuanced and fully realized characters. Susan is a real, flawed, interesting woman. Her husband is a control freak with good intentions, and the bad guys are not merely mustache twirling villains or your typical hoodlums, but complex and strangely likable con men with varying degrees of psychosis. The play made me think of a Hitchcock film- full of suspense and anxiety and seemingly ordinary people thrown into intense extraordinary circumstances.

The direction of Mr. Levy is fast paced, exciting, and outright scary. He makes the creepiest use of a
closet door I have ever seen on stage. And the aforementioned stage combat, some performed in almost complete darkness, is terrifying. The fights are choreographed by Benaiah Anderson, and perfect- scary, realistic, and just the right length to scare the crap out of you while furthering the story. Not only did Mr. Levy get the best fight choreographer for this show, he also drew incredible performances out of his cast. Jessica Weaver is outstanding as Susan- at once vulnerable and strong, innocent and intelligent. As her overbearing husband Sam, Kyle Dean Steffen is perfect. At first, he comes off as a concerned, kind husband. But as we get to know him, his controlling personality comes seeping out. As the somewhat more comic of the criminals, Micah Speirs is hilarious. And Michael Lee- who played a fantastic Renfield in FAC's outstanding Dracula last season- is perfection as Roat, a role that calls for a wide range, a quick mind, and a razor sharp sense of timing- all of which Mr. Lee has in spades. Adam Laupus, as Sam's war buddy Mike, is amazing. His character goes on quite a trajectory, and Laupus handles him expertly.  Rounding out the cast is Mallory Hybl as Gloria, the annoying kid who lives upstairs. Ms. Hybl is fantastic- believable and funny.

As usual at the FAC, the technical aspects of this production are works of art. The set, by Brian Mallgrave, is gorgeous. It sets up a perfect sets up the perfect sense of a home that is a bit claustrophobic. The lights by Holly Anne Rawls perfectly accompany this beauty of set, and the costumes by Janson Fangio are just right- evoking both a time and place, but also the essence of each character.

If you are looking for something fun to do this Halloween weekend, go see this show! Wait Until Dark is a glorious night of theatre, and not to be missed.


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