April 16-26, 1969

The White Liars/Black Comedy

by Peter Shaffer

The White Liars. A Parable

Once there was a man with the same desires and needs as you and I, who in order to earn his living, operated a toy store next door to a bank. Each year he paid his income tax (on time), each day he took inventory of his shop, each month he ordered supplies (mixing mathematics and a certain amount of intuition), and each Friday diligently went to the Bank next door to deposit his weekly earnings. He went to the bank whether he was cold, hot, arthritic, rheumatic, depressed, elated, or bored; and he knew (because of the little nameplates over the wickets) each Bank Teller's name - both first and last. He prided himself in treating each Bank Teller as an equal (equally) and in filling out the Deopsit Slip accurately before going to the wicket. He would smile pleasantly and react with peasure as each Teller called him by name (for names are never secret in a Bank). Counting his change, and smiling as he left the Bank, he never gave a second's pause to realize that each and every Bank Teller thought of him only as The Toy Man. 

Black Comedy

Black Comedy provides us with an opportunity to see what normally we could only guess at - the reactions of a group fo people during a temporary blackout. It is by a trick - darkness when there should be light and light when there should be darkness - that Peter SHaffer establishes a convention. The theatre itself is a convention. It is very seldom that one finds a member of the audience trying to warn Desdemona that Othello is about to kill her. All that Shaffer has done is to extend the normal suspension of disbelief. The fascination in Black Comedy is in watching people who believe that they cannot be seen and who themsleves cannot see. The characters in the play are deadly serious - they don't enjoy their predicament - for this reason it might more correctly been titled Dark Farce.

From the programme for The White Liars/Black Comedy (1968/69)

Cast & Creative Team
For The White Liars/Black Comedy

  • Margaret Barton
    Miss Furnival (BC)
  • Dana Ivey
    Sophie: Baroness Lemberg (WL), Clea (BC)
  • Deborah Kipp
    Carol Melkett (BC)
  • Joel Miller
    George Bamberger (BC), Director (WL)
  • Neil Munro
    Tom (WL), Brindsley Miller (BC)
  • Grant Reddick
    Harold Gorringe (BC)
  • Jack Roberts
    Schuppanzigh (BC)
  • Nicholas Simons
    Frank (WL), Colonel Melkett (BC)
  • Christopher Newton
    Director (BC)
  • Theatre Calgary Design Department
    Set, Costume & Lighting Design