Black Comedy | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Black Comedy 

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BLACK COMEDY, Blue Collar Players, at the International Antique Centre. The Blue Collar Players specialize in "environmental theater"; their previous show, Beth Henley's The Lucky Spot, was presented in a bar not unlike the play's setting. Now they're doing British playwright Peter Shaffer's 1965 farce in a furniture showroom--a seemingly apt choice, since much of the action involves a man's attempt to move antique furniture from his apartment to his neighbor's during a power failure without the neighbor noticing. But the rudimentary, unreliable lighting available to director Kimberly Forsyth makes for an only intermittently amusing staging of this potentially hilarious one-act, which calls for the actors to stumble and tumble in supposed pitch-black darkness on a well-lit stage; when the script calls for the lights to come back on, the stage should go dark, but here the light spillover from an adjacent room ruins the joke. Attempting Black Comedy without perfect lighting is like doing Feydeau without doors.

Also problematic are performances that don't suit the over-the-top material. Leading man Mark Yoder manages a couple of cute pratfalls but doesn't begin to approach the spectacular slapstick the script demands, and Chad Outler's drab, understated interpretation of the flamboyantly gay neighbor is a letdown. With not much substance but lots of style, Black Comedy is the kind of play that needs to be done perfectly or not at all; this college-level effort isn't worth the time it takes to get there, let alone sit through it.

--Albert Williams

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