PMTC presented The Secret of Comedy, a comedy-drama from Edgar-award-nominated Maine playwright Michael Kimball, from October 20-30, 2016 at Mayo Street Arts Center in Portland, ME. The Secret of Comedy is a darkly funny and deeply moving portrait of a family dealing with death and dying, and marks PMTC’s second collaboration with Kimball.
By long-standing comic tradition, the secret of comedy is timing. Thus with a jolt of ill-fated timing begins The Secret of Comedy, which finds comedy writer Emily Petrocelli diagnosed with a terminal illness on the same day that husband Dave, an airline pilot, wins the MegaMillions lottery. Their adult daughter Carey, herself an irreverent comic, moves back home to help her parents through the ordeal.
These are intelligent people, but each has mastered the art of avoiding emotion: mother and daughter through their opposing senses of humor, and Dave from his years of flight training, which sets him duty-bound on a course to find a cure…where none exists. Carey, complying with her mother’s ban on crying, tries to enlist Emily’s help in writing a comedy routine about death. But Emily has her own mission: to lead her family through the five stages of grief, from denial to acceptance, before she dies.
Also taking on the acceptance challenge (“You cry, you’re gone”) is Emily’s best friend Katie, an overworked single mom, and her morbid 16-year-old adopted daughter Chenille, whom Emily hires as her Rainbow Girl after discovering the girl’s secret: the teenager recently reneged on a suicide pact that claimed the life of her best friend.
As Emily’s illness blurs the line between dream and reality, she begins receiving nocturnal visits from her late mother Bernice, an embittered woman from whom Emily had been estranged for decades.
Past praise for The Secret of Comedy:
A must-see play. Theater at its best.
— Portsmouth Herald
Scintillating humor and bare-bones humanity.
— Foster’s Daily Democrat
A fierce breed of comedy. An emotional wringer of a new play. An intricate and wrenching study of four evolving griefs.
— Portland Phoenix
The Secret of Comedy, written by Michael Kimball, was directed by Stephanie Ross. Featuring Josh Brassard, Anna Cranage Conathan, Sarabeth Connelly, John Craford, Rachel Flehinger, Marie Stewart Harmon, and Patricia Mew. October 20-30, 2016, with a preview performance Wednesday October 19, 2016. Presented at Mayo Street Arts Center, 10 Mayo Street, Portland ME.