Coal Mine Theatre is excited to stage Category E by English-born, Edmonton-based playwright Belinda Cornish, from April 11 – 29.
In an interview, the playwright described the show as “a comedy of menace.” She described the play’s characters as naturalistic, but “within a peculiar, mysteriously menacing, somewhat surreal, world.” The play takes place in an environment where imperfect or inferior people are used as scientific test subjects for the betterment of humanity. The audience meets three people in a room, getting to know one another; occasionally one of them leaves for a period of time to undergo unseen and undiscussed experiments. Mysteriously matter-of-fact about their environment, Category E uses human test subjects, as if they were inferior animals, for a scathing indictment of the brutality and baseness that can exist in science.
Fun facts! The cast and creative team answer the question:
“What’s your favourite black comedy?”
It's not a play but, American Psycho. The business card scene is one of my favourite movie scenes of all time. After watching the movie I went and read the book by Bret Easton Ellis because I was so curious about Christian Bale's terrifying but darkly hilarious performance.
Did you know that Leonardo DiCaprio was originally cast in Bale's part but his management team made him turn it down because he might have lost his teenage girl fan base from Titanic? True story.
Linda Griffith’s one woman tour de force Alien Creature. I think you could call it a black comedy.
Linda suggested I do a monologue from it once, and I read the play on a flight to New York. I laughed aloud and I cried and I reread it right away. I was entirely enthralled by her dark wit and searing poetry. It felt so daring and alive, and made me feel like anything was possible in a theatre.
They probably don’t qualify as true black comedies but I recently re-read Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads, a collection of six monologues written for the BBC back in the 1980s. Time has only added to their power. Six disparate characters connected by Bennetts darkly comic observations and unique vernacular. His "voice" is strongly throughout them, his North Yorkshire roots clearly evident. Tough to characterize the humour—these people seem to know who they are and yet seem to possess little self-awareness. The themes of alcoholism, exploitation, the plight of the elderly and the lonely, of child abuse, of mental illness are put under clear light and housed and given voice with these six characters who lead seemingly ordinary lives but what lives beneath stops you in your tracks. They THRILL me.
Rae Ellen Bodie
Daniel McIvor's one-man play, Monster. I saw it in Calgary in 1999 at One Yellow Rabbit's High Performance Rodeo.
The way Daniel told the story was was brilliant. He had me alternating between laughing and holding my breath. The last moment of the play, just before blackout, was the first time I ever screamed out loud in a theatre. It was a completely emotionally engaging experience, which is why I've never forgotten it.