A lifelong friendship brings an added dimension to Aiken Community Playhouse’s next stage offering Paul Wilson’s (You Are Invited to) Uncle Fang-en-stein’s Last Show.
“I’ve known Paul since middle school. I think when he wrote things, I sort of knew what he was imagining and where he was going with it. It helped a lot knowing him,” said Dustin Turner, who is directing Uncle Fang-en-stein.
Wilson submitted the play in a contest the theater group held about two years ago. It focuses on a late-night shock theater host who really loves his job but is doing his last show because he thinks it’s going to be cancelled. It features an unusual cast of characters including an Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, type named Morgana Dark.
“It’s a comedic play, and I really got the idea from the women I worked with in theater,” Wilson said. “Most of the good parts in comedy are for men. I wanted to write a show where women were on equal footing with men.”
One woman who inspired him is his wife, Melissa. She had a small part in an ACP comedy a few years ago, but played it so well “she stole the show,” he said.
Another inspiration in this play is Wilson’s love of the late-night, campy, shock-theater style of horror movie. Turner, too, is a fan of the genre.
“I enjoy cheesy, sci-fi horror,” Turner said.
The love of the subject matter infuses a great deal of fun into bringing the piece to life. Though Turner knows the mind of the playwright, he’s allowed the cast to have some leeway with their presentations.
“The show gives itself to performing ad-libs and improv,” he said. “It’s fun to watch the actors work.”
Wilson has left his show in the hands of his friend, but he has attended a few of the rehearsals and has been pleased with what he’s seen.
“It was a great experience on the first read-through that so many people laughed at it,” he said. “What I thought worked – did.”
(You Are Invited to) Uncle Fang-en-stein’s Last Show will be presented at 8 p.m. Aug. 17-18, 24-25 and at 3 p.m. Aug. 19 in the black box theater of the URS Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets are $12 from (803) 648-1438 or www.aikencommunityplayhouse.com.