As the actors perform in the dark during the first few minutes of Happy Medium’s fast-paced satire “Black Comedy” you wouldn’t be alone in wondering if board operator Deirdre Benson has fallen asleep on the job. Conversely, the local theater veteran is wide-awake and is actually a silent star of this hilarious show.
Since most of the story takes place in the dark, the production employs a simple (yet difficult to successfully execute) reverse lighting scheme. When the stage lights are dark, the actors must perform as if they’re in the light, and when they lights are on, they must fumble around as if in total darkness.
Benson never misses a cue as the bumbling Brits romp about the cramped performance space in a series of near misses and ridiculous pratfalls, all played out in varying degrees of light and darkness.
Timing is everything in a production as unique as this, and director Lizette Morris runs this little farce like a slick, well-oiled machine. The talented ensemble doesn’t miss a beat as they dole out droll British humor with aplomb.
Audrey Lynn Sylvia is side-splittingly funny as haughty, repressed neighbor Miss Furnival. Rife with dowager-envy, Sylvia’s Furnival unravels in grand fashion as she “accidentally” takes her first sip of alcohol. Fringe favorite Mikey DiLoreto delivers an equally riotous turn as limp-wristed, swishing neighbor Harold Gorringe. The duo’s consistent seemingly inconsequential interactions in the background are some of the production’s funniest moments.
The impressive two-tiered set, what must have been a mammoth undertaking for a small company like Happy Medium, creates the perfect cramped, stifling atmosphere in which for the farce to unfold.
Don’t wait for the lights to go out to check out “Black Comedy.”
If you go
Through June 22nd
The Factory Theatre
791 Tremont St., Boston