20 - July 12, 2003
Directed by Ron Martin
COMIC POTENTIAL opens in a
television studio in the not-too-distant-future where a soap opera is being
filmed. Actors have been replaced by life-like "actoids" who are programmed by
computer techies to deliver cheap comedy and melodrama for idiot consumption.
Overseeing the proceedings is
Chandler Tate, a once-famous director of sparkling film comedies who is reduced
to "low IQ TV" now that his original art form is deemed too expensive.
The staff tyrant Carla
Pepperbloom arrives with the boss' nephew, an aspiring screenwriter, Adam
Trainsmith, who hopes to meet his idol Chandler, and learn how to break into TV
During the filming session,
one of the actoids malfunctions by mispronouncing several words, which causes
actoid Jacie Triplethree (from her serial number JCF31333) to laugh repeatedly.
The mispronunciations are explained by the technicians as a common robotic
defect, but an actoid with a sense of humor? That is something else - a machine
beginning to become human.
When Adam is left alone with
Jacie, the story takes a Pygmalion twist. He finds that she is capable of
original thought, and that she understands the humor in "ancient" comedy
techniques, such as double-takes, pratfalls and a pie in the face.
Not only is Adam interested
in writing a comedy script for Jacie, but soon he's falling in love with her.
When the two run away together, the scandal erupts to tabloid proportions. What
evolves is by turns hilarious and touching, as Jacie experiences the joy and
pain of being human, all the while emitting bits of dialogue from her past
characters and snippets of film soundtracks.
Playwright Alan Ayckbourn has
been called the British equivalent of America's Neil Simon, in that he is a
prolific writer of stage comedies that have been hugely successful. Several
times during his career, he has had as many as four of his comedies running
simultaneously in London. COMIC POTENTIAL is his fifty-third play, and he has
penned two more since it opened in New York in 2000.
is the Oklahoma premiere of this play and featured music composed by John
Pattison for the original London and New York productions.