story and photos by Jeremy Donnell
FORT SMITH — Black Comedy, a British farce written by Peter Shaffer, is the reversal of light. Starting out in complete darkness, the audience can only hear the dialogue until there’s a short circuit, and suddenly there is light.
Anytime a candle or other object is used for light, the stage lights dim. This allows the audience to see what is going on, but the actors act like they are in total darkness, which creates a ton of laughs as they bump in to each other and scream out.
For the main character, Brindsley Miller (played by Rham Cunningham), nothing goes the way he wants. Miller and his fiance, Carol Melkett (Amanda Elkins), have borrowed expensive furniture from their neighbor, Harold Gorringe (Stephen Martin), who is on vacation. They need it because Carol’s father, Col. Melkett (Wayne Mathews), and art collector, Georg Bamberger (Matt Hutchinson), are coming to visit.
Miller, a young sculptor, is ready to impress both until things take a turn for the worst.
While trying to figure out their power situation, Miller and Melkett find out Gorringe has returned home from his vacation early. So they decide to move the furniture back while trying to entertain the colonel and Miller’s other neighbor Miss Furnival (Micki Voelkel). Miller’s ex-girlfriend, Clea (Siobhan Kremers), shows up and really throws things out of whack. The German electrician, Schuppanzigh (Joseph Owen), is confused for the German collector, and everything that can go wrong, does go wrong. Laughter from the audience ensues.
This play is directed by Suzanne Thomas, who has been interested in theater since she was a child in India. She has been cast in Black Comedy twice in India, though now that she is directing, she changed it up a bit.
“Each director has a vision, and you have to choose your cast to fit that vision,” says Thomas, who enjoyed her directing debut for Fort Smith Little Theatre. She has been in charge of publicity for the FSLT for three years.
“My cast goes above and beyond what I expect, causing me to try harder as well,” Thomas said.
As many people say, there is more drama off stage than on. With this play, some actors have been directors before, but they are respectful to Thomas, which is important in creating a good production. “Once you believe you are that character, the audience will believe also,” Thomas adds. Every character in Black Comedy does an excellent job of making the audience believe they are in total darkness.
Black Comedy does a great job of delivering the laughs, as the crew stumbles around in darkness, trying their best to make light of what is going on. The show is PG-13 for language, but ages 13 and up will certainly enjoy the humor. This is the first FSLT show to use this kind of light reversal, and it was very successful.
More performances are scheduled for today and tomorrow (June 1 and 2), then June 6-9. A matinee performance is slated for Sunday (June 3). More information is available here.