In the open dress rehearsal of "Black Comedy" Thursday night, actors clumsily tripped over furniture and ran into each other in almost every scene.
But it was just this sort of graceless stumbling that made the show run smoothly.
The first several minutes of the one-act play, which is set in a 1960s London flat, take place on an unlit stage. Although the audience can barely see anything, the characters carry on as if is nothing is unusual. Suddenly, a fuse blows in the flat and the lights come up.
The characters are left in the "dark" for the majority of the show, even though they are technically on a lit stage. The reversal of light and dark lets the audience witness people maneuvering through rooms when lights unexpectedly go out.
Five of the eight actors in Peter Shaffer's "Black Comedy" are members of the Improvabilities, Bowdoin's improvisational comedy troupe. The show is not improv, but director and producer Dan Brady '08 said that the physical comedy aspect of the show makes it a good fit for members of the Improvabilities.
"It's packed full of physical comedy," Brady said. "It takes training and instinct to pull off."
Brady cast the show at the end of last semester. Although he chose the show to take advantage of the talent in Bowdoin's improv troupe, he said there were "a couple of parts that nobody in [the Improvabilities] could really fit into."
Hannah Weil '08, Phil Gates '08, and Ivano Pulito '08, who are not members of the Improvabilities, filled in the holes.
"Black Comedy" may follow a script, but there is still plenty of room for small-scale improvisation. As the actors pretend to be in the dark, they improvise many falls and fumbles.
"Some things are very choreographed, but other than that, it's up to us to make the reality of being in a black out," said Linzee Troubh '09, who plays Carol Melkett.
Troubh said that in rehearsing the show, the cast has broken "lots of glass and a few chairs." However, it is not just props and furniture that have been damaged during practice.
"All of our legs are very bruised up," Troubh added.
In her short, hot pink dress, Troubh's own bruises are visible from the house.
The show begins with only Troubh's character and sophomore Sam Duchin's character on stage. After the fuse blows and the lights go "out," the flat fills with other visitors. The supposed darkness sheds light on incessant slap-stick moments. Characters feel their way around, making constant miscalculations about the placement of objects and frequent invasions of each other's personal space.
Brady expects the audience to enjoy the farce.
"They're going to get something a little different than they expect, but I think they'll like it a lot," he said.
"Black Comedy" runs tonight and Saturday in Kresge Auditorium. The show begins at 8 p.m. both nights and lasts approximately 80 minutes.