LEWISTON — It used to be called “the fly on the wall.” It was that imaginary eavesdropper to everything that’s said in unguarded moments, and its modern equivalent could be that all-seeing, always-on, video camera of reality TV.
It’s just such a camera that captures some hilarious between-the-lines revelations in “The Book Club Play,” the new, and still developing, comedy to be presented Oct. 19-28 on The Public Theatre stage.
A diverse group of friends (you might say an oddball assortment) meets regularly in Ana’s fashionable living room to discuss their favorite literary reading material. They are to be the subject of a documentary film, and laughter meets literature as the camera and audience learn more than book club members intended.
“The fun thing about this play is that both readers and nonreaders will be able to relate to it,” said director Christopher Schario. “At its heart, the play is about friendship and how books connect and reveal us, both to ourselves and each other.”
Schario said the play combines the wackiness of reality TV with the joys of reading and friendship. This somewhat dysfunctional group of friends includes a husband who would rather see the movie than read the book and a professor of comparative literature whose fiancee dumped him because he didn’t know who Edward Cullen was.
They discuss books from “Moby Dick” and “The Age of Innocence” to “The Da Vinci Code” and “Twilight.” (Hint for audience: read “Twilight” to find out about Edward Cullen.)
Schario noted that, as the play develops, it’s fun to discover which book club members tend to be “camera shy or camera hoggish.”
Ana is played by Robyne Parrish, who was last seen at TPT in “Miss Witherspoon” and “Rough Crossing.” Ana's husband, Rob, who would rather watch the movie than read the book, is played by Mike Ostroski. He recently appeared in the TV series “Breaking Bad” and was a resident actor at the Barter Theatre in Virginia for 12 seasons.
Also returning to TPT is Peter Husovsky in the role of Will. He has also appeared in productions at the Theater at Monmouth.
Playing the role of Alex, the newest member of the book club, is Dave Mason, who appeared in TPT's “Almost, Maine” and last season’s “Around the World in 80 Days.” He has also performed at Portland Stage, starring in John Cariani’s most recent play, “Last Gas.”
Courtney Thomas, a newcomer to TPT, will play the hip young writer Lily. Thomas is a recent MFA graduate of the acting conservatory ACT in San Francisco.
Rounding out the cast is Janet Mitchko in the role of Jen, the overworked paralegal. Mitchko is TPT’s co-artistic director and has directed and appeared in many TPT productions.
Karen Zacarias, playwright of “The Book Club Play,” plans to attend a performance of the show.
Schario said Zacarias has been active in consulting with the TPT cast and crew on the production. This is the latest version of her play, which received praise in its first production at Round House Theatre in Bethesda, Md., in 2008, and last fall at the prestigious Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., where Zacarias is playwright-in-residence.
“She is on the leading edge of young playwrights,“ said Schario, who is artistic director at TPT.
Amber Callahan is set designer, Bart Garvey is lighting designer and Hannah Brown is costume designer for the show.