Black Comedy is the third of Nottingham New Theatre’s in-house productions this term. It is a one-act, eight-man play that sees a random group of neighbours, parents, exes and electricity men in a darkened room, all struggling to understand what is going on and who is who. Director Louis Djalili and producer Josie Hayden have done an excellent job at reproducing this play, ensuring the audience are laughing all the way through.
The play begins in complete darkness, leaving the audience squinting to make out the actors on stage. After a while, the stage is illuminated to reveal the characters who are in a blackout after a fuse has blown. We see aspiring artist Brindsley Miller (played by Harry Pavlou) and his wife-to-be, Carol Melkett (Lois Baglin) fumbling around in the dark trying to make things perfect before the millionaire art collector George Bamberger (Reily Salmon) comes to view Brindsley’s work.
“Miss Furnival never failed to make the audience laugh”
Their sweet neighbour Miss Furnival (Emilie Brittain), neighbour Harold Gorringe (Sasha Gibson), and Carol’s father, Colonel Melkett (Hugo Minta) all end up in Brindsley’s flat, all struggling to see a thing. Each character was hilarious in their own way, the drunken Miss Furnival never failed to make the audience laugh, with every drunken move and face she pulled having the audience in stitches.
Alongside Emilie Brittain as Miss Furnival, the other stand-out performance was from Lois Baglin. Baglin embraced the character of sweet and innocent Carol Melkett, her old-fashioned ‘Brindsley-poo’ and ‘Daddy’ nicknames kept the audience laughing whilst simultaneously making us feel sorry for her and her complete obliviousness to her husband’s deceit. Baglin was also the only actress who was on stage the whole time but not once did she accidentally look at someone (which they shouldn’t do as they are in the dark).
“Extremely simple as a lighting technique but worked perfectly”
The dark and light reversal meant for most of the play the lights were either fully on or slightly dimmed. This was extremely simple as a lighting technique but worked perfectly, the extensive scenery and hilarious acting meaning advanced lighting weren’t necessary.
The play used end-on staging, which meant we could see the whole set face-on. The set was split into two levels, having stairs leading up to a bedroom upstairs, which was a very impressive physical technique for a small stage. The main space had canvases of Brindsley’s work on the walls, an old-fashioned telephone, a gramophone and a retro wallpaper that all fit the 1960s era perfectly, coupled with Miss Melkett and Clea’s shift dresses that defined the 60s’ conservative fashion.
“One of the funniest scenes saw Carol and husband-to-be Brindsley, falling and then crawling up the stairs”
The space was utilised well, with the actors scrambling around, trying not to bump into each other and the furniture. One of the funniest scenes saw Carol and husband-to-be Brindsley, falling and then crawling up the stairs, struggling to walk at all in the dark. Just when you think it can’t get any funnier, Jack Ellis as Schuppanzigh enters and his accent means everyone gets him confused with the art collector.
Black Comedy is a hilarious and light-hearted play that everyone would enjoy, especially people who know the cast personally. It addresses the issues of theft, adultery and alcoholism in a light-hearted manner, meaning there wasn’t a second where I wasn’t smiling or laughing. The only problem I had with the play was that at times it was obvious that something funny was about to happen. Apart from this, it was excellent and definitely one of the best NNT plays I have seen!
Images courtesy of NNT Facebook Page