Presented by: Theatre on Brunker (4956 1263)
Venue: St Stephen’s Anglican Hall, Adamstown
Season: Ends September 13
PETER Shaffer’s comedy makes delightful use of inverting light and darkness, with people moving around an unlit stage in the opening minutes before the setting is illuminated when a blown fuse cuts off the night-time electricity supply to their apartment building.
The occupant of the apartment in which the action is set, young artist Brindsley Miller (Duncan Gordon), and his new girlfriend, Carol (Stephanie McDonald), are awaiting the arrival of two men – Carol’s authoritarian father, Colonel Melkett (Brian Wark), who is to meet Brindsley for the first time, and Georg Bamberger (Oliver Pink), a millionaire German art collector who is coming to view his work.
Brindsley and Carol have ‘‘borrowed’’ furniture and art pieces from the adjacent apartment of an antique shop operator, Harold Gorringe (Richard Murray), who is away for the weekend, expecting to be able to put it back before he returns.
Nothing, of course, goes according to plan, with a middle-aged spinster neighbour, Miss Furnival (Rosemary Dartnell), seeking company during the blackout, Harold coming home early, Brindsley’s mischievous former mistress, Clea (Lynda Rennie), arriving unexpectedly, and a German electricity repair man, Schuppanzigh (Carl Gregory), being mistaken for the millionaire.
The actors have to move around the apartment, including up and down stairs to the bedroom, as if they are fumbling in the dark, and this team, under the astute direction of Michael Blaxland, keep the laughs coming for the 90 minutes of the “blackout”.
Duncan Gordon’s Brindsley, for example, tries to move the furniture back to Harold’s apartment before he finds it is missing, getting caught up in a telephone cord and colliding with the visitors in the process.
Rosemary Dartnell’s teetotaller spinster, erroneously given a drink in the darkness, keeps pouring herself more, with her movements around the room becoming increasingly erratic, while Richard Murray’s Harold, an elegant bachelor who is a specialist in emotional blackmail, comes close to bumping into his on-the-move furniture. People talk to others beside them without realising who they are, and there are amusing contacts between hands and body parts.
The timely performances make good use of Chris Bird’s multi-level set design (constructed in association with Brian Lowe), and the lighting and sound by Elena Yanis and Zena Khoury, with the lights dimming when a match or cigarette lighter briefly interrupts the darkness, adds to the confusion the audience enjoyably sees.