Carte Blanche Studios opened their maiden performance of Ray Cooney’s Not Now Darling in the sweltering heat creating a performance that oozed energy and good humor in spite the lack of any air conditioning to speak of. It is a farce of runaway lingerie and unhappy bus schedules, Champaign and furs, misunderstandings and a misused balcony, and not any small amount of money. The audience who braved the perpetual blanket of warmth was rewarded by a performance both entertaining and uproarious.
The theatre is cozy, seating 70 comfortably, and up to 80 when the show demands it. There are two booths and four rows of seats. The front is so close to the stage that one has but to reach out a hand to be able to touch the stage. The play takes part in a London fur trader’s store, Bodley Bodley & Crouch, on the fourth floor in a building. Two closets, a phone, and a balcony supply the actors with all the space they need to scuttle about and generate the story.
Though the set is simple the complexity of the Cooney’s farce the cast bring out is layered. It centers around a playboy of fur salesman Gilbert Bodley’s (played by Michael Keiley) ingenious idea to win another man’s wife’s affections via the gift of his finest fur whilst avoiding any jealousy by making the man himself think he bought his wife the fine coat.
His straight arrow partner, Arnold Crouch (Paul Terkel), gets inextricably and to some extent unwillingly drawn into the adulterous conspiracy, which over the course of the play makes his character look increasingly worse whatever his efforts to the contrary. A gentlemen’s sense of morals keeps characters who know too much from revealing one another’s infidelities, which is also bad business.
The eleven person cast take advantage of each blunder and bungle adding any great lack of moral scruples their characters have to create a live and connected stage. The chemistry between cast members is top notch and despite a great amount of sweating on stage and off, they maintain a momentum key to the play’s humor and vision. “Well this is a game for many players,” Terkel stated late in the play.
The play will be performed for the next two weeks Thursday through Sunday at the studio located on 1024 S. 5th St. All performances begin at 8pm except on Sunday when they start at 2pm. Information about the show and the ability to purchase tickets in advance can be found at carteblanchestudios.com.
The theatre has a sitting area and bar patrons may sit at while awaiting performances or celebrating it afterwards. The actors and crew are happy to share the experience with any who hang about the bar after performances. According to director James Dragolovich, “I want them to come out of here having a unique experience as far as the people, the vibe, the talent. I just want them to feel like they’ve been entertained. I want them to feel that there’s something special about it [Carte Blanche].” Air conditioning should be up and running at subsequent performances.