Wait Until Dark on this week at the Cambridge Arts Theatre
The classic, edge-of-your-seat thriller stars Jack Ellis, who spoke to the Cambridge Independent.
Prior to his scene-stealing turn as Jim Fenner in TV’s Bad Girls, for which he won best actor at the 2004 TV Quick Awards, Jack Ellis had already appeared in some of television’s most popular series, such as Prime Suspect, Casualty and Heartbeat.
An experienced theatre actor, Jack is also the younger brother of Robin Ellis – the original Poldark in the 1970s BBC series – and late TV director Peter Ellis.
Wait Until Dark also stars Oliver Mellor (Coronation Street) and Tim Treloar (Doctors).
Written by Frederick Knott, author of Dial M for Murder, the piece is set in 60s London and tells the story of Susy, a blind woman who, left alone in her flat, becomes embroiled with a group of conmen hatching an elaborate scam.
As the tension builds, Susy is left to fend for herself but with the phone line cut and the house plunged into darkness, can she outwit the murderous visitors?
Wait Until Dark was made into a film starring Audrey Hepburn in 1967 and is often ranked as one of the top 100 scariest films of all time.
“It’s very exciting, I think,” Jack told the Cambridge Independent. “I know everybody says whatever they’re going to be doing is very exciting, but it is genuinely because we have the unique situation of having a registered blind
actress playing the lead role, which is played in the film by Audrey Hepburn.
“So it adds something enormous – it makes it very much more vibrant. She’s amazing – Karina Jones is her name.”
Jack plays Mike Trenton. “The interesting thing is he’s called Mike Trenton but it’s a name that’s given to him as the play progresses,” he observed. “He has no name actually – he’s given a name and that’s the name he has to use through the con.
“He’s basically a criminal and a bit of a baddie, really, so as usual Jack Ellis is playing a baddie!”
Jack is indeed best known, at least among UK TV audiences, for his ‘bad guy’ roles.
“I do a lot of theatre, more than people know – people tend to know me from Bad Girls and Prime Suspect,” he said.
“But I enjoy doing theatre a lot and you’ll find that I’ve played kings... I do tend to play people of authority, I suppose. It’s just because it seems like that on screen, that’s all.”
Jim Fenner, a prison officer and then governor of G-Wing at the fictional Larkhall women’s prison, was for many a truly memorable – and not to mention terrifying – creation.
“It’s a long time ago that – 2005 – but because it’s running on all sorts of weird networks and pay channels, I still get stopped for it,” revealed Jack.
“It was a strong character, it was a very good character, and one of the great things about him was that everything was kind of around Fenner. If I wasn’t on screen, everyone was talking about Fenner and wanting to kill Fenner.
“He was a very well-drawn character that everybody loved to hate.”