Black Comedy

Date 1st April 2022
Society Masque Players
Venue Kesgrave Community Centre, Kesgrave, Ipswich
Type of Production Play
Directors Matt Girt and Hilary Kenny
Written By Peter Shaffer.


Author: Hazel Hole

I was warmly welcomed on arrival by the Directors Matt Girt and Hilary Kenny and also spoke with Matt again after the performance.

This was a very interesting farce like comedy where literally everything light is dark and vice versa following a powercut. The action, frenzied and frantic at times, took place in the flat of a struggling artist, Brindsley Miller. The set, designed by Peter Theobald with d├ęcor by Peter Hands, was striking and allowed for several entrances/exits and a bedroom area on this spacious stage.

The powercut at the beginning plunged the stage into lightness! It took  several moments to realise that, when the stage was lit the characters were stumbling and feeling their way around as if it was dark and their actions reflected this which added to the comedy. The illusion of moving in the dark was maintained throughout, to the credit of the cast. Stage Manager, Gary Manning, assisted by Peter Hands ensured changes were made seamlessly.

Being a farce there was plenty of scope for misunderstandings and mistaken identities and the actors all maximised these. These were strong character roles and the actors all  excelled in their interpretations. The timing throughout was impeccable and fast moving and the production sparkled.

Phil Cory, as Brindsley Miller the artist was central to the plot and intrigue and played the role with enormous skill. He was constantly moving furniture around in the dark ie light which led to some hilarious moments. He had some great facial expressions and was full of energy and action throughout.

Roger Jackaman, as Colonel Melkett was a traditional ex-military type who was definitely not amused at the antics and had a look of great disdain whilst trying to distance himself from the mayhem around him. His shocked expression as he was catapulted from the rocking chair face down to the floor was quite amazing and very comical. His daughter, Carol Melkett, played by Chloe Thomas, was the intended fiancee of Brindsley and was a sweet and obliging character until she realised that Brindsley had had a long term lover.

Sue Hayes, as Miss Furnival, was a delightfully vague spinster, very prim and proper and played this part superbly. When she was apparently under the influence of alcohol which she had mistakenly consumed, she staggered around and slurred her speech very convincingly!

Neil Jackson, as Harold Gorringe, was perfect for this role and was excellent He was irritatingly pedantic and obsessed with minute details and his precious antiques and was a powerful presence on stage.

Issy Alway, as Clea, was Brindsley's former girlfriend, determined to take her revenge on her ex-lover. She created extra misunderstandings and injected details into the dialogue which had Brindsley squirming! She was smart and vindictive in the role.

Julian Mettrick, as the hapless electrician, Schuppanzigh created yet more confusion when he was mistaken as the art dealer who was expected and he appeared knowledgeable about a sculpture. Eventually placed as the electrician he was sent out to correct the fault.

And finally, Gary Sharman, as the famous art dealer Georg Bamberger appeared at the very end and amidst the confusion disappeared down the trapdoor which the electrician had left open.

Costumes (Jayne Flory) were all relevant to the period ie late 60s and lighting and sound (Maurice Gifford) were appropriate to the plot and the setting.

This was a great production from this talented cast and I congratulate the Directors Matt Girt and Hilary Kenny for their hard work, vision and enthusiasm in bringing this comedy to the stage. Well done everyone involved.