Black Comedy

Short Play, Comedy  /  3w, 5m

Published in tandem with The White Liars

In Peter Shaffer's hilarious, crowd-pleasing slapstick comedy, several colorful, duplicitous characters stumble around a pitch-black room – all in full view of the audience, who watch the events unfold in full light.

  • Cast Size
    Cast Size
    3w, 5m
  • Duration
    75 Minutes
  • SubGenre
  • Audience
    Target Audience



Lovesick and desperate, sculptor Brindsley Miller has embellished his apartment with furniture and objects d’arte “borrowed” from the absent antique collector next door, hoping to impress his fiancée’s pompous father and a wealthy art dealer. The fussy neighbor, Harold Gorringe, returns just as a blown fuse plunges the apartment into darkness and Brindsley is revealed. Unexpected guests, aging spinsters, errant phone cords, and other snares impede his frantic attempts to return the purloined items before light is restored.

Black Comedy premiered at the National Theatre at Chichester in July 1965 under the direction of John Dexter.
BRINDSLEY MILLER - a young sculptor, mid twenties, intelligent and attractive, but nervous and uncertain of himself.
CAROL MELKETT - Brindsley's fiancee. A young debutante; very pretty, very spoiled; very silly. Her sound is that unmistaktable, terrifing debutante quack.
MISS FURNIVAL - a middle-aged lady. Prissy and refined. Clad in the blouse and sack shirt of her gentility, her hair in a bun, her voice in a bun, she reveals only the repressed gestures of the middle-class spinster -- until alcohol undoes her.
COLONEL MELKETT - Carol's commanding father. Brisk, barky, yet given to sudden vocal calms which suggest a deep alarming instability. It is not only the constant darkness which gives him his look of wide-eyed submission.
HAROLD GORRINGE - the bachelor owner of an antique-china shop, and Brindsley's neighbor, Harold comes from the North of England. His friendship is highly conditional and pssesive: sooner or later, payment for it will be asked. A specialist in emotional blackmail, he can become hysterical when slighted, or (as inevitably happens) rejected. He is older than Brindsley by several years.
SCHUPPANZIGH - a German refugee, chubby, cultivated, and effervescent. He is an entirely happy man, delighted to be in England, even if it means being employed full time by the London Electricity Board.
CLEA - Brindsley's ex-mistress. Mid-twenties; dazzling, emotional, bright, and mischevious. The challenge to her is to create a dramatic situation out of the darkness is ultimately irresistable.
GEORG BAMBERGER - an elderly millionaire art collector, easily identifiable as such. Like Schuppanzigh, he is German.
  • Time Period 1960s
  • Setting Brindsley's apartment in South Kensington, London.
  • Additional Features No intermission
  • Duration 75 Minutes


“A dazzling comic ballet.” – New York Daily News

“Pure hilarity.” – International Herald Tribune

“An orgy of blind slapstick brilliantly sustained.” – Sunday Express

“Laughter mounts steadily.” – The New York Times

“[One of] the funniest and most brilliant short plays in the language.” – London Sunday Times

“Hilarious.” – New York Post

“It is still possible to laugh yourself into a hernia watching Black Comedy.” – USA Today

Licensing & Materials

  • Minimum Fee: £55 per performance plus VAT when applicable.


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Peter Shaffer

Sir Peter Shaffer, in full, Sir Peter Levin Shaffer (1926-2016), was a British playwright of considerable range who moved easily from farce to the portrayal of human anguish.

Educated at St. Paul’s and Trinity College, Cambridge, Shaffer first worked for a music publisher and ...

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