Black comedy is more black than comedy
PUBLISHED: 16:34 20 June 2008 | UPDATED: 13:23 05 October 2010
A FIELD in rural Minnesota is the setting for black comedy The Smilin’ State, last night Saturday, June 20. It begins with father and son staring blankly forwards into space. waiting for the end of the world on land which has recently been repossessed
A FIELD in rural Minnesota is the setting for black comedy The Smilin' State, last night Saturday, June 20.
It begins with father and son Milton and Bruce Hoffman, agrarian farmers, staring blankly forwards into space.
It becomes apparent as the scene unfolds that the two are waiting for the end of the world on land which has recently been repossessed.
As bank representative Todd Tesch attempts to persuade the simple pair off their former land, the play builds towards its explosive and tragic climax.
At the same time, Milton's wife Ethel becomes increasingly hysterical with half a melon on her head and the role of 'invisible' daughter Kathy becomes disturbingly clear.
The Smilin' State is certainly more 'black' than 'comedy' with a dark insight into the stubbornness of the blindly religious.
The characters pause at regular intervals to pray as they wait in the summer heat for rapture.
For a play with one set and only four characters, it is surprisingly enjoyable.
Characters and plot are based on experiences that writer Noel White had as an agricultural exchange student in North America.
The acting was largely excellent with special mention going to Rob Carroll, who was utterly compelling from the start as Bruce Hoffman.
An interesting insight into poverty, family and faith, The Smilin' State threatens at time to slip into farce.
Largely, however it manages to maintain a brooding intensity which builds impressively towards its crescendo.
The Smilin' State is at the Hackney Empire Studio Theatre until Saturday (June 21).
Tickets: £12 (£9 concession).
Ticket office: 020-8985 2424, or online:
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