Don’t Be Left in the Dark. Go See Black Comedy
If the title “Queen of Farce” could be awarded to someone in the artistic community in St. John’s, it would be awarded to Janet O’Reilly of Nothing On Productions.
Walking into opening night of the show, I was thrilled to see an almost full house of excited audience members – always a pleasant sight in the Barbara Barrett Theatre. The stage was set as a full apartment, with flats separating the stage into a bedroom and living area, which was decorated in appropriate 60’s furniture and decor.
The show revolves around couple Brinsley Miller (Zac Cross) and Carol Melkett (Sabrina Roberts)and their attempt to win over millionaire art collector Georg Bamberger (Andrew Halliday), while also trying to impress Carol’s father Colonel Melkett (Michael Nolan). After Brinsley prays for an easy night, hell breaks loose, and just as you think the night's events can’t get any worse... they do. All balled into the mix are neighbour Miss Furnival (Nichole Woodman), Brinsley’s old love interest Clea (Elizabeth Hicks) and their German electrician Shuppanzigh (Tim Murray)… Oh… did I mention they stole all of “their” furniture from their neighbour, Harold Gorringe (Chris Panting)? Yeah… that all happens.
The show started a little backwards from the norm, starting with the actors on stage in the dark. When the lights go out in the script, the lights come on in the theater, to show the audience the opposite effect. I found this effect to be riveting and allowed the audience to see the comedy in not being able to see a bloody thing. When someone came in with any light source (candle, match, etc.) the lights would dim to show that some light was being emitted from these objects, and visibility for the characters was improved, even for a fleeting moment. Stage manager Ashley Ring made it all look seamless, all transitions in beautiful harmony.
Director Janet O’Reilly has done a beautiful job of choreographing this delicate dance of farce in the dark. The direction and execution of this farce was intricate, clean and precise, which is not an easy task. The acting was no different, with the casting of this show being on the nose, and everyone truly embodying their character. An extra shout out to Sabrina Roberts and Chris Panting for superb performances, each glued to the souls of their characters, all while making me believe the whole time that they actually could not see.
The show runs at about an hour and forty minutes, and you should expect to be laughing for most of this time. Falling rocking chairs, disappearing Buddha, and German accents – What more could you want?
Nothing On’s production of Black Comedy by Peter Shaffer is running from October 3-6 at 8 PM at the Barbara Barrett Theatre, and judging by the house size on opening night, it would be wise to get your tickets right after reading this article – they won’t last long. Get them here while you can!