Night has fallen over South Kensington. A crash is heard in the distance as someone stumbles blindly. A figure walks slowly with a chair in his arms, trying to avoid obstacles as he crosses the room. Whispers of voices hide in the chatter of others. Even stranger, this is all going on in a room on the top floor of the Union.
No, it?s not some strange secret society, it?s a DramSoc rehearsal for their upcoming play, Peter Schaffer's Black Comedy (directed by Brooke Milburn), which will open on the 30th of November as half of a double bill with Joe Orton's Ruffian on the Stair (directed by Neil Monteiro). Since the beginning of term, cast and crew of DramSoc have been working hard to realise these two very different plays; which have in common only the performance dates, the crew, and the way things are not as they appear to be. Behind the scenes, the crew have been preparing for a manically paced set up - they will have a maximum of 48 hours in which to transform the Concert Hall stage and rig sound and lighting for both of these one-act plays.
The first play, Black Comedy, is about a sculptor who is facing a highly nerve-wracking and potentially disastrous evening with a potential buyer and his future father-in-law. Typically, for such an important occasion, the power goes out before his guests even arrive and the rest of the evening goes downhill from there. The twist is that light and dark are reversed in this play and there are plenty of laughs as the audience can see the events going on even though the scene is pitch-black. This becomes a difficult feat for the lighting designer - for example, the stage lights are dimmed slightly when a character strikes a match.
After the interval, the audience returns with a pint in their stomachs and a snack in their hands. A magic wand has been waved over the stage, and we are sent to the other side of theatre for Ruffian on the Stair, a dark drama about a hit man and his live-in girlfriend, who is blissfully unaware of his occupation. One day, a strange man shows up on their doorstep while the boyfriend is meeting a man in the King's Cross toilets. He seems to be meaninglessly harassing the woman, but we gradually learn that there is more to the story. Following in the footsteps of DramSoc's successful production of Michael Frayn's Copenhagen, a strong cast of three carry this intense piece through its twists and turns to its explosive end.
These two plays are on from Wednesday 30 November to Saturday 3 December in the Union Concert Hall. Ticket prices are £4.50 for students, £6 for others and can be reserved here. Doors open at 7:00 ready for the curtain up at 7:30.