The University of the Virgin Islands’ College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences and UVI Theatre will present a public reading of the production “A Play on Words: A Trans-Atlantic Romantic Comedy,” at 4 p.m. on Sunday, April 29. The presentation will take place in the UVI Little Theatre, located in the CA Building on the St. Thomas campus.
Written and directed by UVI Playwright-in-Residence Dr. Doug Larche, the production features local favorites from UVI and Pistarckle Theatre. They include actor-singer Natalie Opoku, actor-math professor Dr. Doug Iannucci, actor-artist-teacher Jai Kenyatta Anderson (of Ulla Muller School), and actor-athlete Max Cymerint, a point guard for the UVI Buccaneers. Dr. Larche will read stage directions.
“A Play on Words” was originally scheduled for production during the 2011 and 2012 Spring UVI Theatre seasons. Unfortunately, unforeseen postponements occurred in both seasons. Dr. Larche explained the decision to offer a public reading now came because the cast had “invested a good deal of time in pre-production and members of the community expressed a desire to see the show.”
This is a full-length, two-act play, with a running time of approximately two hours. There will be only one performance. Admission is free.
Dr. Larche said he originally wrote the play while doing post-doctoral work at Oxford University. It is based on several funny experiences that both he and his late son, Jason, had which demonstrated the huge differences between British and American English. It has been workshopped and performed at Oxford and in the Iowa Playwrights Workshop, dramaturged by Morgan Jenness of the New York Public Theatre, and produced by Carousel Theatre in Iowa, and Theatre on the Bay in Wisconsin. Larche is best known locally for the productions of his original plays – “Truth on Trial: The Ballad of Sojourner Truth,” “In the Beginning” and “O Christmas Three!” – as well as his direction of “South Pacific” in 2011 at UVI’s Reichhold Center for the Arts.
In “A Play on Words” a wide-eyed American playwright Jason (Cymerint) gets separated from his tour bus in Stratford-Upon-Avon and ends up on the doorstep of the rural Bishop and Chicken Pub during a driving rainstorm in the middle of the night. Maggie (Opoku), a skeptical pub maid, single mother and aspiring poet, begrudgingly takes him in. By dawn, Maggie, Jason and two eccentric locals Lil (Anderson), Maggie’s mom, and Hugh (Iannucci), a jealous constable and footballer, all discover that there is much more than an ocean between England and America. The play offers an unlikely four-way romance, sexual miscues, a British word game gone awry, accidental intoxication, sweet poetry, angry interchanges, silly songs, sad stories, a hero nearly frozen to death, lots of laughter and a single tear.