Theatre Roundup: Week 9

Our anonymous reviewer has time to slip in the last show of term before their summatives are due…

Black Comedy – Lion Theatre Company

3 stars

Black Comedy tells the story of an evening of chaos, centred around aspiring artist Brindsley Miller (Nick Owen). I must admit I was dubious as the play began, as lines were rushed so quickly that the first scene seemed to pass before I’d even opened my Maltesers! However, as the cast relaxed into their roles, I settled into what became an enjoyable evening of farce and hilarious German accents.

The first obstacle with putting on this particular play is the subversion of lightness/darkness. Almost the entire play takes place in a ‘blackout’, which is demonstrated not by darkness but with blazing light. The actors attempted to blunder around the stage in this supposed darkness, but at times I was not convinced. That said, the lighting did allow the actors to make the most of their humorous scenes, which were in abundance!

The lighting also lent itself to the excellent set design. There was incredible attention to detail on the main stage, with cluttered pieces of furniture creating a convincing artist’s studio. Although the actors did spend a fair amount of time sitting down, the play never became static due to the frequent seating changes, for which director Ollie Burrows must be commended.


On the whole, the acting was strong. Nick Owen delivered a confident performance as the play’s protagonist, Brindsley Miller, but was at times somewhat one-dimensional and I would have liked to see some of the more rogue-ish aspects of his character coming through. For me, the standout performers were Luke Satterthwaite (Harold Gorringe) and Meg Osbourne (Mrs Furnival), with Satterthwaite’s natural delivery making him easily the most sympathetic character onstage, whilst maintaining the high energy needed for farce. However it was Osbourne who had the strongest characterisation, remaining absolutely focused throughout, and her descent into drunkenness was amusing yet still utterly convincing.

Overall, whilst I would advise the actors to make more of their dramatic pauses and to ensure they are constantly maintaining a high energy level, this was an enjoyable show, and Lion Theatre Company (and director Ollie Burrows in particular) should be praised for their ‘debut show in the Assembly Rooms’. It thoroughly deserved the resounding cheer it got at the end, and is sure to go from strength to strength in the remaining performances.

Want to anonymously review for the Tab? E-mail [email protected]