The Chapel Street Players have tackled “Comic Potential” by Alan Ayckbourn. The show opens tonight and runs thru December 4.
This is not an easy play to produce, but director Joseph Pukatsch, responsible for CSP’s previous hits “Talk Radio” and “The Dirty Old Man,” was up for the challenge.
An Ayckbourn play is not for the sheepish. Ayckbourn, a prolific British playwright who has written 74 full-length plays and at least 20 other revues and plays for children, has earned 35 awards and honors, including two Oliviers, a Tony, two Molieres and two Lifetime Achievement Awards.
“Comic Potential,” Ayckbourn’s 52nd play, is a sci-fi comedy-thriller set in a futuristic TV studio, where a has-been filmmaker and his assistants are making an appallingly bad daytime soap opera.
The crew is using actoids, the name referred to robots programmed to act. There are no scriptwriters. When Adam, the idealistic nephew of the millionaire station owner, enters, the whole process goes haywire.
Adam wants to write good comedy, the kind Chaplin and Keaton would have appreciated. But when he falls in love with Jaycee Triplethree— otherwise known as JC333, one of the actoids on the show—things get complicated. As Jaycee grows more human, the line between actoid and human blurs.
“The show examines the effects art can have on bringing people together and the ways that love can sometimes overcome any obstacle, including fiber-optic circuitry,” says Andrew Mitchell, CSP’s director of marketing. “Buster Keaton, spit takes, sleazy hotels and televised soap operas all combine to create a future world that is still very much like our own.”
Chapel Street Players is a community theater. This blog never refers to such organizations as amateur, though, in theory, the adjective is correct. There are some community theater troupes that are not as refined as Chapel Street, but this gang consistently offers good work.
The Chapel Street Playhouse, 27 N. Chapel St., Newark
Call 368–2248, or visit www.chapelstreetplayers.org