Satirical classics get stage life at Carpenter Square

click to enlarge Satirical classics get stage life at Carpenter Square
“Who Am I This Time? (And Other Conundrums of Love),” a comedy by Aaron Posner based on Kurt Vonnegut stories, performs February 20-March 14 at Carpenter Square Theatre, located at 800 W. Main. The play involves several love stories created from Vonnegut’s unique perspective. Pictured are Erick Rivera on the guitar, and left to right, Nathan Dunn, Caitlin Royse, Rodonna Carter, Lana Henson, Mike Waugh, Jennifer Farley, and Craig Pruitt.

Kurt Vonnegut might be the one satirical pacifist and counterculturalist who needs no introduction. Carpenter Square Theatre brings to the stage stories by the Indianapolis-born writer, which span more than 100 works including Cat’s Cradle and Slaughterhouse-Five.

Who Am I This Time? (And Other Conundrums of Love), a comedy adapted by Aaron Posner, fuses three Vonnegut short stories from his collection Welcome to the Monkey House.

The production is titled for the second story, which follows actor Tom Newton, an introverted mousy loner sort energized by the fake lives of the characters he plays in the North Crawford Mask and Wig Club of central Connecticut.

In this story, Newton’s interactions are presented within the span of a single evening, offering a brief but substantial cross section of his own life and the unique lives of those around him.

The other stories are narrated by Newton as well. The first follows two childhood sweethearts as one returns from war to prevent the other’s marriage while the third chronicles the relationships of a successful movie star.

As with so many human endeavors, the play centers on the theme of love.

“It’s really kind of my favorite thing,” said Rhonda Clark, artistic director of Carpenter Square Theatre and costume director for this production. “Comedy mixed with, I wouldn’t say drama, but with a touch of pathos.”

The play explores how people develop relationships; how they look for love, find it and navigate the universally difficult objective of maintaining and growing it.

The play marks the third Aaron Posner adaptation the theater has run. Posner, co-founder of Arden Theatre Company in Philadelphia, has directed more than 100 productions and adapted novels by Chaim Potok and stories from Vonnegut and Mark Twain, among others.

“He really has a knack for taking novels and short stories and making really good, viable theater pieces out of them that give the essence of the original material,” Clark said.

Clark said feedback has been positive, with audience members noting this play’s on-point mix of comedy and humanity. Unlike many productions at the theater, Who Am I is family-friendly and offers patrons a worry-free night out.

Directed by Kenneth Benton, Who Am I stars Craig Pruitt as Tom Newton with Jennifer Farley as Kate, his wife. Rodonna Carter, Nathan Dunn, Lana Henson, Erick Rivera, Caitlin Royse and Mike Waugh fill out the cast.

The show’s metro-area premiere runs through March 14. Because of the small theater space, reservations are recommended.

Print headline: Laughter, Love, Carpenter Square Theatre presents comedic adaptations of Kurt Vonnegut stories.

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