Peter Shaffer’s “Black Comedy” opens at Trabzon State Theatre

 

Peter Shaffer’s “Black Comedy” opens at Trabzon State Theatre with a premiere on March 30th.

The play begins in complete darkness.

Brindsley Miller, a young sculptor, and his debutante fiancée, Carol Melkett, have stolen some very expensive antiques from his neighbor Harold Gorringe, who is away for the weekend, to spruce up his normally slum-like apartment in order to impress Carol’s father and a wealthy prospective buyer named Georg Bamberger. Before the guests arrive, a fuse in the cellar short-circuits causing a blackout. The stage is instantly illuminated.

As Brindsley and Carol search for matches, the phone rings and Brindsley answers. It is his previous mistress Clea, who has just returned from Finland. Brindsley hurriedly distracts Carol, and refuses to see Clea.

Miss Furnival, the occupant of the flat upstairs, enters seeking refuge from her fear of the dark. Miss Furnival is a spinster and lifelong teetotaler. They ring the London Electricity Board, but are told only that an electrician might arrive sometime later that night.

When Carol’s father, Colonel Melkett, arrives he takes an almost instant dislike to Brindsley, and is unimpressed with one of his sculptures—a large work in iron with two prongs.

Harold Gorringe returns from his weekend early. Brindsley quickly pulls Harold into the flat so that he will not go into his own and discover the thievery. In the dark, Harold does not realize that the room is full of his own things. As Carol blindly mixes everyone drinks, Brindsley attempts to restore as much of the stolen furniture to Harold’s flat as possible.

There is a mix-up as Carol hands out the drinks in the dark, and Miss Furnival is given liquor by mistake. She is hooked after her first taste, and stealthily procures more. Harold discovers Brindsley and Carol’s engagement, and is furious at the news. It is obvious that he himself has secret feelings for Brindsley.

Clea enters unannounced. In the confusion, Brindsley catches hold of her bottom, and instantly recognizes it. He manages to retreat with her to the loft, where his desperate pleas that she leave dissolve into passionate kisses. When she refuses to go, he concedes that she can stay in the loft, if she will not come downstairs.

The electrician, a German named Schuppanzigh, arrives to mend the fuse, and everyone excitedly mistakes him for Bamberger. The electrician, with his lit torch, catches sight of the sculpture, and is extremely impressed. Schuppanzigh, who was highly educated in art at Heidelberg, praises Brindsley’s work with great eloquence. Just as the statue seems on the verge of being sold for five hundred guineas, they realize who he really is. The group turns on him in indignation, and Schuppanzeigh is cast down to the cellar to mend the fuse.

Clea emerges from the loft, and discovers Brindsley’s engagement. Outraged, she dashes Vodka over the startled guests. When Clea reveals herself, Carol is horrified. But her hysterics are interrupted by Miss Furnival who, completely inebriated and lost in a world of her own fears, erupts into a drunken tirade, ranting on the terrors of the modern supermarket, calling to her dead father, and prophesying a judgement day when “the heathens in their leather jackets” will be “stricken from their motorcycles.” She is led out by a consoling Harold. Carol breaks off the engagement and the Colonel is livid.

When Harold discovers the state of his room, he returns to Brindsley’s flat mad with fury. He pulls one of the metal prongs out of the statue, and advances on him. The Colonel follows suit, pulling out the other prong, and together they advance on the terrified sculptor.

Now, finally, Georg Bamberger arrives. This time, the guests mistake the millionaire for the electrician, until Schuppanzigh emerges from the cellar, and declares that the fuse is fixed. The startled guests realize that Bamberger has, at long last, arrived, and Brindsley exclaims happily “Everything’s all right now! Just in the nick of time!” But just as he says this, Bamberger falls into the open trapdoor. As Harold, Colonel Melkett, and Carol advance on Brindsley and Clea, Schuppanzigh turns on the lights with a great flourish. There is instant darkness.