Black Comedy (play) - Reception


The opening night of Black Comedy was a resounding success. Shaffer would describe the performance in his 1982 introduction as "a veritable detonation of human glee." In particular, Shaffer would recall vividly one specific audience member, "an enormously fat man in front of me, who hadn’t laughed once, he was the only man in the theatre, I think, who wasn’t laughing, and I decided that if he disliked it, it was a failure--I didn’t know who he was, just that he was in my eye line, and if he liked it it was a success, you know how rational one can be—suddenly laughed like...a volcano about to erupt, and he fell in the aisle and began to crawl towards the stage...sobbing with laughter—and calling out to the actors—this was on the first night—crawling down among the knees of the critics and all that saying, “Oh stop it, please stop it, please stop it! I can’t bear it!” It was possibly the nicest thing that ever, ever happened to me as a playwright...the sheer joy of the man holding his tummy and going, “Please stop it!” It was lovely. That was Black Comedy."

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