by Peter Shaffer
"If you do only one thing this week, then go to The Mission Theatre, Bath to see Playing Up Theatre Company...the cast excelled in not wasting a single line..." Sardines on Black Comedy (2022)
About the play
A work of pure, farcical genius, Black Comedy blends physical slapstick, a great gag about lighting and visual comedy that is timed to perfection. Unknown artist Brindsley Miller is desperately trying to impress his potential future father-in-law, Colonel Melkett, as well as a famous German art dealer Georg Bamberger, by throwing a drinks party. So, in an attempt to appear sophisticated, he’s ‘borrowed’ (pinched!) some expensive rare furniture from his antique dealer neighbour Harold Gorringe without his permission. Then there’s a power cut!
In total darkness (don’t worry the audience sees everything, it is the characters who can’t ‘see’ apparently) Miss Furnival, the teetotal lady upstairs, the daughter of a Baptist who is afraid of the dark arrives, Harold returns unexpectedly, and so does Brindsley’s jealous, former mistress Clea, keen for a reconciliation. Throw in a German electrician for good measure and watch the comedy explode. The problem is no one can see anyone and chaos ensues.
Brindsley has to try and swap all Harold’s furniture back, in the dark, without anyone noticing, fend off the advances of Clea and try and maintain a semblance of normality while desperately trying to keep everyone, especially Harold and Carol, his fiancée, in the ‘dark’ about what is really going on. This is a clever but very, very funny play guaranteed to pick you up; laughs galore.
“Genuinely funny, rip-roaring in fact… and shows what magic the theatre can be when the aim is simply to entertain.” British Theatre.Com on Black Comedy
“My sister nearly died laughing.” Princess Margaret (As quoted in Derek Jacobi’s autobiography “As Luck Would Have It” where he discusses his performance as Brindsley Miller in the inaugural production of Black Comedy in 1965 and the Queen’s visit to see it.)
Playing Up staged Shaffer's perfectly crafted comedy at The Mission Theatre, Bath
Photographs courtesy of Howard Lee