Reliant though it is upon staginess (eerie mood music, periodic plunging of the audience into total darkness), New Village Arts Theatre's production of Frederick Knott's Wait Until Dark is thoroughly entertaining. If the title rings a bell, you may be remembering the 1967 film that starred Audrey Hepburn as a blind woman preyed upon in her New York City apartment by lowlifes in search of a doll stuffed with drugs. You may not know it was based on Knott's play, which premiered a year earlier.
The NVA staging is taut and atmospheric. Kristin Woodburn plays blind Susy Hendrix with the needed blend of spine and vulnerability. The heavies (Daren Scott, Eddie Yaroch and Max Macke) are a little one-note, but 10-year-old Abby DeSpain is remarkable in the role of the feisty, wise-beyond-her-years neighbor girl who helps Susy foil the bad guys.
Wait Until Dark will startle you, and even scare you, if you let it.
Wait Until Dark runs through Oct. 27 at New Village Arts Theatre in Carlsbad. $28- $31. newvillagearts.org
The Amish Project is a tour de force for Iliana Carter, who plays multiple roles in Jessica Dickey's one-woman play, presented by Mo'olelo Performing Arts Company at the 10th Avenue Theatre in East Village. Clad in a traditional Amish woman's dress, apron and bonnet, Carter reenacts the tragedy (and aftermath) of a 2006 shooting at a Pennsylvania schoolhouse that left five girls dead.
With props as sparse as a schoolhouse blackboard and a hunk of chalk, Carter assumes practically from moment to moment the personas of the innocent schoolchildren, the gunman (who took his own life in the spree), the killer's tormented widow and others in the village of Nickel Mines.
The constant shift in character is a testament to Carter's commitment and versatility, though the impact of some of the portrayals is sacrificed in the process—the breakdown of the widow, for one. That pain says so much about the other victims of massacres like this one—the guilt-ridden survivors—and you want to absorb it and let it get inside you, over time. By play's end, all of the Nickel Mines men, women and children may be a troubled jumble in your mind. Yet, even if they are, you won't forget them, and that's what matters most.
The Amish Project ends its run on Sunday, Oct. 20. $15-$20. moolelo.net
A... My Name is Alice: SDSU students stage musical numbers, monologues and sketch comedy, all from a woman's perspective. Runs Oct. 18 through 27 in SD- SU's Experimental Theatre. theatre.sdsu.edu
Broken Glass: In Arthur Miller's play set in 1930s New York, a doctor believes a woman's paralysis is all in her head, and as he treats her, aspects of her marriage are revealed. Opens Oct. 16 at North Coast Repertory Theatre in Solana Beach. northcoastrep.org
The Amish Project: A one-woman play inspired by the killing of five girls at a Pennsylvania school seven years ago. Presented by Mo'olelo Performing Arts Company, it runs through Oct. 20 at 10th Avenue Theatre in East Village. moolelo.net
Priscilla Queen of the Desert: In an adaptation of the fantastic 1994 cult movie, two drag queens and a transsexual traverse the Australian Outback, bound for a gig. It's for folks who like their disco performed by cross-dressers. Presented by Broadway San Diego, it runs through Oct. 20 at the Civic Theatre, Downtown. broadwaysd.com
The Few: This is a world premiere of a comedy about a small-town Idaho newspaper publisher who returns after four years to find that things have changed. Through Oct. 27 at The Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. oldglobe.org
The Important of Being Earnest: Two guys, named Jack and Algernon, pretend to be named Earnest to win over a couple of ladies who've got a thing for the name. Oscar Wilde's funniest play, presented by Cygnet Theatre, runs through Oct. 27 at Old Town Theatre. cygnettheatre.org
Travesties: Aging Henry Carr recalls WWI-era Zurich, where he was acquainted with James Joyce, Vladimir Lenin and Tristan Tzara, the founder of Dadaism—and he does so by way of Oscar Wilde. Kooky? Well, that's Tom Stoppard for ya. Presented by Cygnet Theatre, it runs through Oct. 27 at the Old Town Theatre. cygnettheatre.com
Wait Until Dark: Three no-goodniks attempt to steal a doll secretly containing heroin from a too-clever blind woman. Through Oct. 27 at New Village Arts Theatre in Carlsbad. newvillagearts.org
The Last Goodbye: Dig Jeff Buckley? How about Shakespeare? Get some of both from this modern take on Romeo and Juliet set to Buckley's music. Runs through Nov. 3 at The Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. theoldglobe.org
The Tallest Tree in the Forest: Daniel Beaty stars in his own one-man musical about the life of Paul Robeson, an early-20th-century football player, actor, singer and civil-rights activist who ended up getting blacklisted in the era of McCarthyism. Through Nov. 3 at La Jolla Playhouse. lajollaplayhouse.org
The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity: Ion Theatre's political satire finds a TV-wrestling promoter casting a protagonist wrestler's young Indian-American protégé as a terrorist character called The Fundamentalist. Through Nov. 7 at BLKBOX Theatre in Hillcrest. iontheatre.com
Wit: An English professor dying from cancer reflects on her life during her final hours. Through Nov. 17 at Lamb's Players Theatre in Coronado. lambsplayers.org
Crime Pays: A radio game show with dastardly overtones, served up with dinner, is presented by Mystery Cafe at Imperial House restaurant in Bankers Hill. mysterycafe.net