The Curse of Elizabeth Faulkner at Charing CrossCultureTheatre
The Curse of Elizabeth Faulkner is a gothic farce, which centres on an Edwardian undertaker who has been struggling to pay his bills. The set is sparse, due to an earlier confrontation with bailiffs, and the play gags on this fact – think low budget, like Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace and just as ridiculous. If you enjoy outrageous comedy like Fawlty Towers or commedia dell’arte such as the modern-day interpretation One Man, Two Guvnors, then this is something aimed at you. Despite this, The Curse of Elizabeth Faulkner may leave some fans of farce a little wanting.
As a transfer from this summer’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival one might expect something a little juicier and laugh-out-loud than what one gets, which is, sadly, a lukewarm black comedy with just the odd moment of genuine hilarity. The gothic theme flails on the empty stage and the humour is dampened by the fact that everyone is trying slightly too hard to make the gags work in such conditions. The laughs are few and far between, with an inordinate amount of elongated pauses, but when they do come, they are well deserved: the actors really do earn their punch lines. Thankfully the characterisation is good enough to almost make up for the lack of belly laughs, the foreboding Bristolian old lady who appears with a black sheet over her face throughout especially rectifying a lot of the production’s wrongs.
Directed by Antony Coleridge, The Curse of Elizabeth Faulkner is a play that promises a whole lot, but ultimately fails to deliver on the London stage. Although the costumes are lacking and the acting occasionally pretty cringe-worthy, there is definitely something here which is worth going to see outside of a beer-fuelled tent in Edinburgh.
The Curse of Elizabeth Faulkner is on at Charing Cross Theatre until 23rd November 2013, for further information or to book visit here.