What funny business happens when the lights go out?
That question is at the heart of Drama Dock’s spring offering, “Black Comedy,” set for a run at Vashon High School this weekend.
The wild British farce, written in 1965 by Peter Shaffer — who went on to write the blockbuster Broadway and West End hits “Equus” and “Amadeus” — is built on a simple conceit: When the stage lights are up, the characters in the play are in the dark, and when the lights go out, they can suddenly see.
“It’s the perfect situation for physical comedy,” said island theater artist Steffon Moody, who is making his Drama Dock directorial debut with the show. “The premise is very unique, and that’s what interested me in the play in the first place. I thought it was a great theatrical problem to work with.”
Moody has cast a constellation of some of Vashon’s funniest thespians to tackle the slapstick and pratfalls required by the show.
Marshall Murray, a rubber-faced actor who has starred in several Drama Dock shows and musicals, will tackle the role of Brindsley Miller, a hapless young sculptor.
The play is set in motion when Miller borrows some expensive furniture from a neighbor’s flat without permission, in a desperate attempt to impress two visitors, a wealthy art collector and his fiancée’s father, a pompous colonel.
Stephanie Murray, Marshall’s wife and another A-list Drama Docker, plays the ex-girlfriend of the sculptor, who shows up at an inopportune time to add further chaos to evening that goes seriously awry when a fuse blows, plunging everyone into darkness.
Other cast members include Bryanna Savalesky, as the fianecée, Chiam Rosemarin as the fiancée’s father, Dianna Ammon as an eccentric upstairs neighbor, Randy Marinez as the owner of the purloined furniture, Louis Mangione as the millionaire art dealer and Fred Albert as a German employee of the London electricity board.
The ensemble, Moody said, has been a delight to work with.
“They are all really strong and professional,” he said. “Marshall is a brilliant leading man — he’s jumped into inventing the physical comedy. The whole point of the show is the physicality, and you have to invent it and make it up. So he tries a lot of things, and whenever I laugh, we know we’ve got something.”
Moody brings a wealth of experience to his role as the show’s director. A founding member of UMO Ensemble, he has performed for the Big Apple Circus, penned a show for Teatro Zinzanni and composed several comedic songs that have gone viral at JibJab.com. On Vashon, he’s one of the organizers of a comedy series at the Red Bike, and he frequently performs stand-up himself. He has directed numerous student shows and currently teaches acting at DigiPen Institute of Technology.
Still, he said that directing a show for a community theater group was something new for him.
“I wound up designing the set as well, so things kind of snowballed,” he said with a laugh.
He said he hopes islanders will come out to see the show.
“It’s going to be a really funny physical comedy,” he said. “It is not a serious play. It’s just a lot of fun, and the actors are fabulous.”
“Black Comedy” plays at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday at Vashon High School. Tickets, $15 and $10, are on sale at Vashon Bookshop and at the door.