Black Comedy

by  Peter Shaffer

Short Play, Comedy  /  5m, 3f

"[One of] the funniest and most brilliant short plays in the language" - London Sunday Times

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.

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  • Cast Size

    Cast Size

    5m, 3f
  • Duration


    75 Minutes
  • SubGenre


  • Audience

    Target Audience

    • Adult

Additional Info

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.

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"[One of] the funniest and most brilliant short plays in the language." - London Sunday Times

"Pure hilarity." - International Herald Tribune

"Laughter mounts steadily." - The New York Times

"Hilarious." - New York Post

"A dazzling comic ballet." - New York Daily News

"It is still possible to laugh yourself into a hernia watching Black Comedy." - USA Today

"An orgy of blind slapstick brilliantly sustained."- Sunday Express




Performing Groups

  • College Theatre / Student
  • Community Theatre
  • Professional Theatre

License details

  • Minimum Fee: $45 per performance
    $75 with companion piece



  • Time Period: 1960s
  • Duration: 75 Minutes
  • Setting: Brindsley's apartment in South Kensington, London.
  • Additional Features: No intermission


5m, 3f
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.
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Peter Shaffer

Sir Peter Shaffer, in full Sir Peter Levin Shaffer (born May 15, 1926, London, Eng.), 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 then as a book reviewer. His ...

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Black Comedy premiered at the National Theatre at Chichester in July 1965 under the direction of John Dexter.

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