Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Barrington's "Black Comedy" - Farce, Reversal, Cute

Three more days to catch "Black Comedy," finishing its run for Barrington Stage at 30 Union Street in Pittsfield - the show closes this Saturday. It's a fast moving, eighty plus minute farce with a distinctive spin.

Written by Peter Shaffer and first produced in 1967, the craziness transpires within the London apartment ofr Brindsley Miller (Brian Avers). He has borrowed furniture from neighbor Harold Gorringe (Mark H. Dold) and intends to impress his fiance's father, Colonel Melkett (gesture-a-moment actor Gerry Bamman). Brindsley's bride-to-be Carol (Nell Mooney) is ditzy, funny, and excellent as diversion.

Here's the twist: The action begins in total darkness yet the actors on stage evidently have clear vision. Suddenly, a fuse blows and that's the end of electrical power in the flat. The catch is that the stage is now fully lit but the performers obviously cannot see a thing. Hence, Mooney sashays about in some version of a glide/slide. Avers as Brindsley bumps into furnishings, bobbles the telephone......Yet, when his former girlfriend, Clea (Ginifer King) arrives, Brindsley literally feels his way about her derriere. She returns fondles and more with aplomb. It's a hoot.

Bamman topples backward and forward in the wooden rocking chair. I have seen him perform Moliere before and this actor has the versatility to fly over the top at times while switching gears to wry humor at others. A second neighbor, the dowdy Miss Furnival (Beth Dixon) is subtle, droll, absurd.

Lou Jacob's pinpoint direction is ultra-important since the physical comedy occurs within the context of bright lighting even though the cast, in theory, cannot see and must mime its way around and about. Adrian W. Jones' set is immediately transportive. Scott Pinkney, lighting the show, has the piece perfectly cued.

"Black Comedy" is precise. This farce is unrealistic, improbable, exaggerated, "low," rich in stock characterizations, and will never live on in memory. Two women chase Brindsley who is the picture of the disheveled, bumbling, husband-t0-be.

Your mood, theatergoer, will determine the extent of your laughter. Should you become most positively infected with the ongoing scene, giggles will follow. Otherwise, you will surely appreciate and chortle occasionally.
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Anonymous Nerine said...

Well written article.

10:32 AM  

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