'Improbable' as it is, play at Studio Players promises lots of laughs

Contributing Culture WriterNovember 14, 2013 

Fellow writers Grace (Sharon Sikorski), left, and Vivvi (Stephanie Wyatt) get playful with Arnold (Brett Ervin).

  • IF YOU GO

    'Improbable Fiction'

    What: Studio Players' production of Alan Ayckbourn's play, directed by Bob Singleton

    When: 8 p.m. Nov. 14-16, 22-23, 29-30; 2:30 p.m. Nov. 17, 24 and Dec. 1

    Where: Studio Players' Carriage House Theatre, 154 W. Bell Ct.

    Tickets: $21. Available at (859) 257-4929 or Studioplayers.org.

Once a writer produces a finished work, it sometimes can wind up on the page, the stage or screens big and small. But on the way to that finished product, an author might have to overcome more than a few creative roadblocks.

In the case of the comedic play Improbable Fiction, which Studio Players mounts starting this weekend, the journey a writer takes from a blank page to a full story isn't just half the fun. It's all of the fun.

"This play is fascinating to me. It's got so many twists and turns," said Alex Maddox, who plays nerdy sci-fi writer Clem in the production. "It's the ultimate roller-coaster ride."

Improbable Fiction was written by British playwright Alan Ayckbourn and made its stage debut in 2005. Like almost any good roller coaster, its comedic thrills and laughs are only enhanced by buildup.

The play's first act takes place at a writers' circle meeting, complete with aspiring but struggling authors in genres ranging from musicals, detective novels and romance to children's literature and instruction manuals. Each writer in the group of six is having different problems on the way to completing their projects.

There's plenty of comedy as the writers discuss their work, and we get to know their passions, weaknesses and quirks. The audience definitely should pay attention during that first act because the second act transports them to an unpredictable place.

"Creative people like that in any genre, there's a little bit of neuroses there," said Graeme Hart, who plays Brevis, a retired headmaster and lover of musicals. "You get inside of the minds of everyone of these people."

This is where Improbable Fiction kicks into high gear, both for the audience and the performers. The writers in the play quickly become characters in warts-and-all versions of each writer's creative work in progress.

Stage manager Sam Jenkins said the play required an extra few weeks of technical rehearsal and a beefed-up backstage crew to seamlessly pull off the nearly dozen costume changes each actor has to make as they transport the audience from one creative vision to the next.

"It's got everything. I mean, it even has a goblin and a squirrel," she said. "It spans all genres."

In some ways, Maddox says, he thinks Improbable Fiction explores the idea of "who really controls a book?" among the author, the characters and the audience's imagination. But Hart said this play isn't out to blow your mind as much as it is to tickle your funny bone.

"You're not going to get educated on the meaning of the universe. You're going to get entertained," he said. "They'll laugh their a-- off."


IF YOU GO

'Improbable Fiction'

What: Studio Players' production of Alan Ayckbourn's play, directed by Bob Singleton

When: 8 p.m. Nov. 14-16, 22-23, 29-30; 2:30 p.m. Nov. 17, 24 and Dec. 1

Where: Studio Players' Carriage House Theatre, 154 W. Bell Ct.

Tickets: $21. Available at (859) 257-4929 or Studioplayers.org.

Blake Hannon is a Mount Sterling-based writer.

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