Like many Americans, theater artist Ross Carter felt terrible and helpless following the December 2012 murder of 20 students and six staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., by a lone gunman.
"I thought, 'What can I do? I'm nobody, what can I do?" Carter recalls. "And then I thought, 'I'm going to write a comedy about gun control.'"
Gun control is one of the most polarizing issues in the United States, proponents saying something has to be done about the cycle of gun violence in the country and opponents saying gun restrictions infringe on rights guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
But, Carter observes, the two sides rarely engage in a meaningful dialogue.
"It's a powerful subject," Carter says. "It's a subject people quickly get angry and emotional about. It's a difficult thing to discuss. Most people have strong views already and don't want to be put into a position where they have to be exposed to nuances of thought."
But Carter knows that comedy can be a great place to start the conversation, because it puts people in a good mood, sharing mutual laughs and joy.
Carter didn't just make a comedy, he made an out-and-out door-slamming farce, the sort of play like Noises Off where there is usually a mistress in the closet and someone jumping out of the window in the all-together.
This story is set in the office of the most conservative senator in the United States, poised to become the Senate majority leader and preparing to deliver the Republican rebuttal to a Democratic president's speech. It's Easter Sunday, and a manufactured controversy has erupted over an online query: What would Jesus pack?
"Jesus is not going on vacation," Carter quickly notes. "He's not packing his bags."
No, the question is if Jesus were alive and living in America today, what sort of weapon would he carry to defend himself, or would he? The intention, Carter says, was to create tension in the senator's camp of supporters between those who are confident Jesus would carry a gun, and those who insist he wouldn't.
The senator, "gets a lot of support from the NRA (National Rifle Association) and a lot of support from the evangelical right," Carter says. "So the people on the evangelical right are saying 'Of course not,' and the people in the NRA are saying, 'Not so fast. I think he would.'"
Pretty soon the senator finds reporters on the phone and at his door seeking statements and supporters of his from both camps insisting he take sides.
Throw in a son who is the senator's ideological opposite and his new reporter girlfriend, and the frenzy quickly rises to a fever pitch.
"The show's just funny," director Eric Seale says. "I think you can come into it and not give a damn about the subject matter and leave here not discussing the point and still laugh for two hours."
Seale, former director of Actors Guild of Lexington, is known for incorporating multimedia into his shows, and went into overdrive here with mock cable-news segments about the growing controversy.
"I think there should be more modern farces like this that address these ridiculous issues," Seale says.
Carter says he hopes the play does what theater does best: "There are a lot of competing needs, and art is an excellent way to present those questions and get people to think about them."