Courtesy of C. Stanley Photography
No Rules Theatre Company’s season opener “Black Comedy” is a must see for anyone who enjoys ninety minutes of rib cracking laughter.
The play, a classic farce by British playwright Peter Shaffer, is centered around a power outage. The show starts in complete darkness where you can hear the actors going about as if the lights are on, and then when the power “goes out” in the play, the stage lights come up so we can see the actors. Hilarity ensues as the characters fumble about and the plot progresses.
The show is set in the flat of Brindsley Miller (Jerzy Gwiazdowski), a very poor aspiring sculptor who is courting the well to do Carol (Kathryn Saffell). On the evening of the play, Brindsley is expecting to receive Carol’s father Colonel Melkett (Matthew R. Wilson) to ask him for permission to marry Carol. He is also expecting Georg Bamberger (Joshua Morgan) a millionaire art collector who is coming to look at his sculptures.
In order to impress his company, Brindsley has “borrowed” the very expensive furniture of his neighbor Harold Gorringe, who is away for the weekend. Complicating matters further, Harold comes back from his trip early, and Brindsley’s ex-lover Clea (Dorea Schmidt) has arrived, unaware that he is now engaged to another women. Brindsley is now fighting to keep the lights off, and keep the other characters in the dark about his deceitful actions.
The actors held up the pretense of being in the dark wonderfully, and it is hilarious watching them attempt to maneuver without sight. Through all around excellent performances, Brian Sutow stands out as Harold Gorringe. Sutow plays the campy neighbor in love with Brindsley to great comedic effect. He displays quite the range in his character and is key in some of the biggest slapstick moments in the play. The dynamic between Brindsley and Carol is also quite good; they play off of each other as a mismatched couple, making the chemistry between Brindsley and Clea all the more evident.
The set, designed by John Bowhergs, was a 1960s English artist’s flat. Making use of multiple levels and decorated by the artwork of Brindsley, it helped evoke the mood of the play. The lighting design, by Travis McHale, was well executed, with lights dimming perceptibly every time a candle or lighter was lit, going along with the inverse lighting scheme that is the premise of the play. The costumes matched each character well, with Carol dressed as the prissy 1960s debutante contrasting with Clea’s bohemian look.
“Black Comedy” is well worth the trip to the Signature Theatre. Comedy lovers will not be disappointed with this farce.