When I hear the words “British comedy” I automatically think “corny”. Monty Python and Benny Hill have led me to believe that a lifetime of eating disgusting food and scraping before a monarch causes a person to only find humor in the driest, most desperately tedious forms of comedy.
So when I heard Carte Blanche Studios was producing a British comedy about a philandering fur salesman of all things, I was going to give it a pass. I ended up buying a ticket out of devotion to the art rather than any desire to see the show. Much to my delight, Carte Blanche’s “Not Now, Darling” completely shattered my expectations.
The story takes place in swinging 60’s London. The entire play is contained within a single set, the fur shop of Bodley, Bodley and Crouch. Fooling around is the norm, and the situational comedy stems from everyone trying to hide their infidelities from their significant other. It’s all fun and games until somebody’s husband or wife finds out.
The world of Bodley, Bodley and Crouch was created through meticulous detail. The set, props, accents, and costumes beautifully capture a bygone time and place that seems almost impossible considering the direction civilization has headed in the last 40 years. If the play wasn’t grounded by the realistic portrayal, it would be just irrelevant and frivolous hijinks.
The acting in “Not Now, Darling” is pitch perfect. The storyline is so alien to current mainstream American culture the show could have been easily ruined by any hint of zaniness, hamminess, or irony. By playing it straight, the actors transport the audience to a fantastical world of middle-class affluence, lax sexual mores, and consequence-free promiscuity. The juxtaposition of a show that celebrates hedonism against the backdrop of a reality fixated on war and recession provides immense comic relief from the stresses and strains of muddling through our own dubious circumstances. The comedy is hilarious when played in earnest.
Carte Blanche’s “Not Now, Darling” is absolutely sensational. The execution is flawless, the comedy is uproarious, and the cast is unbelievably talented. The owners of Carte Blanche Studios have been quite industrious in refurbishing their home on 5th Street, and their establishment is coming along very nicely. But if they keep putting out works with this level of quality they may need a bigger theater before long.
Carte Blanche’s next production is William Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew” running September 23 through October 10. I already purchased my ticket and I’d recommend to anyone to reserve your seat now. If the past is any indication of the future, it’s going to be phenomenal.