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Buntport Theater wants you to get out from in front of your TV set to enjoy some live midweek theater. And how do they implement that agenda? Well, they stage a serial sitcom with an enticingly affordable entry fee twice a month, from October through April, and hope they can get you hooked. Magnets on the Fridge is under way, and this Saturday, you'll have an opportunity to catch up on the first five episodes during a marathon rehash for the faithful and the uninitiated alike.
"We thought it would be funny to put something live on stage that inherently shouldn't be live on stage," says troupe member and writer Erin Rollman. "So while we're trying to imitate sitcoms, we're also making fun of them." One way they accomplish that, notes Rollman, is by using stock characters thrown together under weird circumstances: "All sitcoms have a premise of why these people are together. We decided to have a group of friends start a book club with each other. But the vast majority of them do not really want to be in the book club." And here's how Buntport keeps you coming back for more: "At the end of each episode, we pick the book for the next one out of a hat, using suggestions made by the audience. Then we incorporate that book into the story line somehow."
So far, they've tackled a wildly motley selection of literature, including Moby Dick, The Sneeches,by Dr. Seuss, Admiral Hornblower in the West Indies and the Kama Sutra. They performed Moby Dick using the kiddie-pool set from a concurrent production at the theater space. "We put the whole couch into the pool of water, and we all just got sopping wet through the whole thing," Rollman says. Their take on Seuss included an entire section spoken in rhyme. As for the Kama Sutra, she says, "We very delicately walked around that one."
The Magnets marathon, actually a sort of trial run for the fifteen-episode one they're planning for June, offers at least a couple of twists for returning audiences: They won't be exact re-creations, and they'll include commercial breaks, with advertisers from other theater companies and the like. And the whole affair promises to be easygoing: "People don't have to stay," Rollman explains. "They can walk in and out of it if they want." The Buntport cast isn't quite sure how they'll handle it themselves.
"After all," Rollman quips, "one of us will have to go to the bathroom sometime."
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