Black Comedy

Wed 19th – Fri 21st March 2014


Emily Tilley

at 22:25 on 19th Mar 2014



Ollie Burrows, the director of Lion Theatre Company’s ‘Black Comedy’, claims in the programme the production will be a success if it makes its audience laugh. Well, it certainly did! The play is an unusual twist on a drawing-room farce, which, at first, leaves the audience in the dark (pun intended…if you want to understand, go and see the play!), but soon proves itself to be a hilarious exploration of physical comedy and stagecraft.

The actors’ excellent comic timing and confident use of slapstick was marred only by the occasional dip in energy and lack of slickness. Although the delivery of the lines was, in general, very good, there were a few moments where words were lost behind comic accents and the dialogue’s fast pace. These issues, however, will no doubt be ironed out over the course of the next few performances, and, in general, the production grappled with the challenges presented by the play’s unusual premise admirably.

The real strength of the cast was their consistently humorous and convincing portrayal of character. Nick Owen’s presentation of the somewhat bumbling Brindsley Miller, who finds himself in an increasingly desperate situation, is certainly laudable, displaying a mastery of physical theatre, and seemingly ceaseless energy. His interactions with Eleanor Stephens’ seductive and hard done-by Clea were particularly amusing, and their recognition scene was one of the highlights of the play. Millie Davey, as Carol Melkett, and Jack Close, as Colonel Melkett, were also highly entertaining in their interactions with the slightly batty Mrs. Furnival, played by Meg Osborne, who wreaks havoc upon discovering that she likes the taste of gin, and Harold Gorringe, played by Luke Satterthwaite, the over-attached neighbour who should learn not to leave a spare key under his doormat. Rory Parker was hilarious as Franz Shuppanzigh, an electrician with surprisingly strong opinions about art, and the brief cameo appearance of Ollie Burrows himself, as the elusive Georg Bamberger, was the icing on the cake of what was a truly impressive cast.

Overall, ‘Black Comedy’ is a play that is full of surprises. It is an absurd descent into anarchy, which is made all the more comical through its clever use of scenery, props, and lighting. Despite its few teething problems, this production was a thoroughly enjoyable way to end the term.


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