The curious case of love

English faculty write, direct romantic comedy

Evansville Civic Theatre’s main stage is usually reserved for family friendly plays, but their next production is anything but.

Christina Hauger (Thalia), Jim Hunter (Tim), Melissa Henning (Sonia) and Devin Victoria McBride (Charlotte) rehearse a scene from "The Conversation of the Keys." Hunter is also directing the play.
Photo courtesy of Brian Simpson
Christina Hauger (Thalia), Jim Hunter (Tim), Melissa Henning (Sonia) and Devin Victoria McBride (Charlotte) rehearse a scene from “The Conversation of the Keys.” Hunter is also directing the play.

Instructor in English Alice Shen kicks off the Civic Theatre’s Underground Series with her play “The Conversation About the Keys.” The production contains adult language, open flame, and simulated alcohol and cigarette use.

The play will have a two-weekend run at 7:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and at 2:00 p.m. on Sundays, running from September 2-4 and 9-11 at Evansville Civic Theater’s main stage. Tickets will cost $10 in advance or $12 at the door.

Shen began working on “The Conversation About the Keys” for her Master’s thesis at Virginia Tech in 2009. She wanted to make a play about relationships inspired by real events.

“I think it was around the time ‘How I Met Your Mother’ started, so I definitely wanted to write a romantic comedy,” Shen said.

She said she feels her life is a part of the romantic comedy genre, and the play will include some personal experiences.

“The Conversation About the Keys” follows Tim and his fianceé Thalia as they reflect on the transience of love despite all efforts to make it last. It is composed of two companion one-acts: one story followed by sequel combined into one production.

The first one-act will tackle the question of “What makes love disappear?” and will have both Tim and Thalia reflect on their experiences. The second one-act will address the issue of “What happens after love is gone?”

While at Virginia Tech, it was given a workshop production and has had small line revisions before handing the script over to the Evansville Civic Theatre earlier this year.

English instructor Jim Hunter will be directing the play after successfully directing “Bug” by Tracy Letts. Hunter has worked with Evansville Civic Theatre for 2.5 years and said it has been a dream of his to get “The Conversation About the Keys” on that stage.

Hunter said his work with “Bug” garnered enough acclaim to bring this production to the theater.

“I think ‘The Conversation About the Keys’ an incredibly strong play,” Hunter said. “This is a cynical, nihilistic romance, and I think we need more of that. It’s a romantic comedy that isn’t all that romantic.”

The play will kick off the Underground Series, which contains edgier material and more adult subjects than the main stage’s usual productions.

“I feel smarter and more awake and alive to life experience when I’m done reading ‘The Conversation About the Keys’,” Hunter said. “There’s a certain degree of wisdom to this and I hope after watching it others will feel the same.”