Written by Randall David Cook, Contributor
I’m baaaaaaaack! In 2017 I wrote a horror-thriller play called Kappa Kappa Scream for the Furman Playhouse. (Ask seniors about it. They were impressionable and easily frightened freshmen at the time but have hopefully recovered by now.) In that play, a sorority pledge retreat in the woods went terribly, horribly wrong, and the laughs and screams from the audience rose along with the body count.
So when I was asked to write a new play for Furman–and yes, this comedy is brand spanking new–I decided to challenge myself to try to get the laughs without all the mortality.
Soon that challenge will be put to the test, because in theatre dying is easy and comedy hard, and from November 19-24 at the Furman Playhouse, Ding Dong Merrily On High will be a collaborative attempt at laughs aplenty. I know it’s rather obvious for me, the playwright, to recommend that you attend, but the truth is: 1. The cast is wildly talented and 2. Most of you still need CLP credits, especially you procrastinating seniors.
Some of you are now asking… “okay. What’s the play about, Mr. Self-Promoter?” About two hours. Ba-Dum-DUM.
More specifically, Ding Dong Merrily On High is a very loose and exaggerated account about one of my first jobs in New York City when I was hired as a personal assistant for an Oscar- winning screenwriter and his workaholic wife. They and the job were insane, and after a few disastrous and stressful weeks my employment with them was terminated when I had to return to South Carolina for my grandmother’s funeral.
Yep. That happened. I’d possibly be bitter about the entire experience were it not my privilege now to make fun of them. That’s one of the great things about being a writer: We often get the last word. Or rather, words.
In this theatrical version of one of my most disastrous jobs, a senior at Wilson University (my long-term fictional stand-in for Furman) gets a much-desired interview with a show-business couple who have a rather unhealthy relationship with a stuffed animal named Frosty Flaky. (And please note, this is not as much of a fictional stretch as you would like to think). Added to this mix are a homicidal cat, a British heiress who has suddenly gone blind and a narcissistic action film star, all creating a combustible collection of neuroses and privilege, much like any given afternoon assemblage in the Furman DH.
And finally, an offer: If you don’t laugh at least a dozen times, you have my full permission to throw water balloons at the Playhouse, 50 years later. At Furman, a temporary structure can remain permanent for five decades, and if that doesn’t make you laugh, nothing will.