The Pennsylvania College of Technology will stage its spring theater production "Love, Sex, and the I.R.S." at 7:30 p.m. today through Saturday in the Klump Academic Center Auditorium.
The play is a comedy about two unemployed musicians rooming together in New York City. To save money, the roomies file joint tax returns that list them as married. When the Internal Revenue Service opens an investigation, the "couple" and their friends weave an outlandish web of deceit.
"The main haracter John lies to the I.R.S. and gets away with it for years," said Jacquie Engel, director of the Penn College production. "But when he's audited, he has to make up other lies to go along with the first, and more lies to cover up those, and the cycle repeats itself until finally it all comes out in a surprising ending."
"Love, Sex, and the I.R.S." has been produced in more than 10,000 theaters across the country since New Jersey comedians Billy Van Zandt and Jane Milmore wrote the play in 1979. The production has consistently received rave reviews. One newspaper even warned diners to finish eating before curtain time or they might laugh enough to choke.
The cast's favorite scene to perform involves a character named Mr. Jensen returning a catcher's mask to John and his "wife." The I.R.S. agent asks John why the couple needs such a thing. John explains that they use it for "playing."
"As in, 'playing in the bedroom,' " said Engel. "Of course, the conversation gets inundated with double entendres and misunderstandings and it's so funny. We have trouble getting through that part without laughing."
The eight-member student cast includes Jacob Urey, of Selinsgrove; Clayton Lose, of Waterville; Rachelle Horning, of Muncy; Scott Stofko, of Burke, Va.; Jessie Chronister, of Annville; Eileen Harrington, of Springfield, Va.; Max Rosen, of Newtown; and John Catania, of Newtown Square.
The play features both experienced and inexperienced performers. Most of the actors appeared in theatre productions in high school but others, such as Max Rosen who plays Mr. Jensen, are new to the stage. Engels enjoys helping the actors to experiment with different comedic strategies.
"With a comedy like this, timing and inflection are crucial so I have them try it different ways until it's funny," said Engel. "They are sometimes shocked and delighted that such small changes in tone or timing can really change the meaning."
The director and cast found mastering the comedic twists and turns of the play's plot both difficult and rewarding.
"It's hard to rehearse a play like this until the actors can put their scripts down," said Engel. "The dialogue and action is very fast-paced which makes memorization a challenge."
The production features slapstick gags, plot surprises and mistaken identities that playwright Van Zandt describes as ' la "I Love Lucy."
"I suppose there is a bit of a moral to the story - don't lie - but who cares about that?" said Engel. "It's just fun to watch the snowball of confusion grow until it crashes and breaks apart. We hope the audience leaves feeling spent from laughter!"
Tickets for "Love, Sex, and the I.R.S." are $5 for the general public and admission is free to Penn College faculty, students and staff. For more information about the play, contact the Student Activities Office at 327-4763.