“Black Comedy” is the perfect production for the Piccolo Theatre.
It emphasizes the two things the theatre does best – farce and physical comedy – and nails the spectacle straight into your funny bone.
Peter Shaffer’s one-act play derives its name from both its comedic nature and its setting in a London apartment during a blackout. The actors fumble their way around in a (supposedly) darkened room; any lit candles, flashlights, etc. mean lights out for the audience. Lighting designer Eric Branson may be suffering from carpal tunnel by the end of the show’s run from the constant switch-flipping and dimming.
Director Peter Sullivan (“Cry Havoc” at the Bailiwick) gets a ridiculous amount of body movement from his actors, and in that regard, produces a truly impressive ensemble performance.
The plot involves Brindsley, a young sculptor (Adam Kander) trying to make a good first impression on the Colonel (Andrew Pond), the rigid father of his fiancée, Carol (Piccolo Theatre Ensemble Member Liz Larsen-Silva). Brindsley “borrows” some expensive furniture and antiques from his neighbor, Harold (Brian Kilborn), who is out of town at the time, and prepares to sell one of Harold’s pieces to a rich collector under the watchful eye of his potential father-in-law.
Inevitably, the couple must deal with a conservative, nosy neighbor (Kelli Walker kills with her portrayal of a drunken Ms. Furnival), the unexpected return of Harold and the arrival of Brindsley’s mistress, Clea (Stephanie Sullivan in a performance short but sweet).
Despite a final 15 minutes that could have been tightened up, their fumbling, stumbling buffoonery is our gain, and the performances are all a pleasure.
“Black Comedy” runs through Halloween at the Piccolo Theatre,600 Main Street
. For tickets, call 847-424-0089.