I am a writer living in Melbourne who loves to devour culture and the arts. Visit me at www.pumptheatre.com.au
Ripping slapstick comedy premieres at Fringe
The Dark Side of the Room, an original slapstick comedy written and directed by Con Coutis, presented by Plain English Theatre, erupts on the stage at Club Voltaire in the 2019 Melbourne Fringe Festival 12-14 September. Read more here.
Set in 1984 in a small flat in East London two 'Laurel and Hardy' type characters Alan (Con Coutis) and Simon (Charlie Hill) engage in rapid-fire dialogue about the general state of affairs in dreary England. The central focus of the performance occurs on a couch Alan is buying from Simon - since splitting up with his girlfriend Roxanne (Agata Dmochowska).
The dialogue oscillates from general observations and commentary, to highly constructed arguments and rants, displaying Coutis flair for linguistic sophistication, and understanding of structure, delivery and timing in slapstick comedy.
The action has moments of absurdity, which include the use of physical props, delay of simple tasks (e.g. making coffee) and surprise entrances by new irrelevant characters, and a virtual 'interval'.
The play references a range of comedic styles like Beckett's Waiting for Godot and pays homage to comedy greats like Groucho Marx, Laurel and Hardy, Fawlty Towers, and Rowan Atkinson.
Coutis, Hill and Dmochowska rarely miss a beat, as they execute this rapid-fire comedy with consistent English accents and daring physical acts on the small stage at Club Voltaire. This was warmly received by the audience and summoned everything from discrete giggles to raucous belly laughs.
Alas The Dark Side of the Room only had a two-night season at Club Voltaire and worthy of a remount. Currently, there is a drought of rigorous slapstick comedy in Australia, and now might be the time for a renaissance.
The play also features a fantastic 80's soundtrack designed by Coutis, featuring my favourite 'The Dark Side' from the 80's cult film cult classic 'Eddie and The Cruisers' about the mysterious rock 'n' roll entity Eddie Wilson (1964).