City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Black Comedy

By Bill Dunlop - Posted on 24 August 2007

Show details
Perse Players
Running time: 
Sam Beresford and Ben Gaastra (directors), Peter Shaffer (writer), Alex Gaunt (lighting), Edward Frey (sound)
Chris Boreham (Brindsley Miller), Anna Catchpole (Carol Melkett), Chris Bricogne (Colonel Melkett), Rosie Wadham (Miss Furneval), Charles Harris (Harold Gorridge), Schuppanzigh (Matthew Barfield), Elizabeth Jones (Clea) Georg Bamberger (Robert Wilson)

The lights don't go up for some time on
'Black Comedy' down in the hall of Old St. Paul's Episcopal Church (venue 45),
but this is, of course, entirely intentional. Peter Shaffer's jeu d'esprit is
a darkly moral tale in which the protagonist, Brindsley Miller (Chris Boreham),
gets rather more than he might have wished for and, by implication by the
play's end, perhaps a little more than he justly deserves.

Intent on impressing
both the father of his new girlfriend Carol (Anna Catchpole) and an eccentric millionaire
anxious to buy some of his sculpture, Miller 'borrows' furniture from the flat
of prissy antique dealer Harold Gorridge (Charles Harris). All goes well for
Miller, till the lights go out - or as those familiar with the play will know,
go on. Shaffer reverses optical logic, and scenes in the darkness of blackout
are played in full light, whilst when electrical supply is uninterrupted, at
the opening and end of the play, scenes are acted in darkness.

Shaffer's play
isn't simply technical trickery, however; it's both roaring farce and sharp
commentary on what can happen when diverse and disconnected people are brought
together in emergency. Thus kindly next-door neighbour Miss Furneval (Rosie
Wadham), emerges as the repetitious bore real life has made her, Carol's
military father a potentially homicidal bombastic bully.

The complications Shaffer stacks
up for his put-upon protagonist deserve to be seen rather than described, but
it's an intentional irony that the only pair of clear eyes in the
surrounding darkness belong to the on-call electrical engineer. 'Black Comedy',
as already indicated, is a play which ought to be seen to be appreciated, and
Perse Players' production is most certainly worth seeing.

It happens that this
will be the last theatre review posted by this reviewer of the Edinburgh Fringe
2007, and it's heartening to close with a non-professional company performing
with style and very much in keeping with the true spirit of the Fringe.

Time: 6pm, 20-25 August

Copyright Bill Dunlop 2007, published on 2007