Capsized Flotsam

Donaco Smyth's fun comedy is set in — and ostensibly modeled after — the witty literary England of Oscar Wilde and P.G. Wodehouse. But the work bears more similarity to the over-the-top farces of Joe Orton, indulging absurdity rather than incisive social satire. Fading novelist Basil Oakenbridge (Smyth) struggles with writer's block as bill collectors thunder at the door. When an idiot acquaintance (Scot Carlisle) ends up publishing a book remarkably similar to his own current unfinished work, Basil prods for answers until he discovers the existence of an astral library between the planes of life and death, which contains every book ever written or that will be written. Thus begins an elaborate plan to pull the dynamic books of his future to the present so as to win acclaim once again and pay off mounting debts. And through all of this he tries to maintain the even temper of his live-in lover (Kenn Johnson), who is forced — for publicity purposes — to play the demeaning role of Basil's butler. Many of Smyth's jokes, though amusing, are self-conscious rather than folded gracefully into the play's substance, creating the sensation of a sitcom rather than a solid, whirling Edwardian farce. Under director Douglas Leal's guidance, however, beautifully wrought characters and delightful performances give the evening an unequivocal charm. Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m. Starts: June 26. Continues through Aug. 9, 2008

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