“Black Comedy” is a riotous, farcical, play by legendary playwright Peter Shaffer
At the start of the play, all the audience sees is darkness, but it soon becomes apparent that when the characters see light, then we see darkness and vice versa. This creates a very comic aspect to the play; when the light goes out on the actors on stage, we are the only ones left that can see what is actually going on. This immaculate concept of reverse lighting was an element of the play that is extremely effective.
A young man and girlfriend wait anxiously for the arrival of her father and a potential buyer for his artwork. Suddenly the lights go out and they are pitched into black, total darkness. An elderly neighbour stumbles in, frightened in the dark. Then the military father arrives, furious that the man is so unprepared. Then the neighbour whose furniture the man has borrowed to impress the potential buyer turns up unexpectedly. The man’s other girlfriend arrives unexpectedly and impersonates the cleaner to try to obfuscate. Then the electricity repair man arrives, and finally the millionaire buyer.
There is endless opportunity for crisp split-second dangerous business, as the young couple try to keep up their various deceits and return the neighbour’s furniture and ornaments without him noticing. People fall down stairs, bang into furniture or doors, get tangled in phone cords or suitcase handles, accidentally overturn rocking chairs, walk into open trapdoors – it’s a smorgasbord of pratfalls and physical comedy.
The play is genuinely funny, rip-roaring in fact.