Shakespeare is canceled. Don’t ask why—he just is. It might have something to do with the tremors that keep jarring the college diversity office, or then again, it might not. We’ll never really know.
Ted Zurkowski’s College Fun, directed by Lynnea Benson at the Marjorie S. Deane Little Theatre (Frog & Peach Theatre Co presents), is a quickie of a farce that serves up moments of genuine hilarity if you have the patience to bear with its meandering, stuck-in-a-rut dialogue. Then again, with a runtime of just under 40 minutes, your patience won't be spread too thin. Yes, that slim runtime may contribute to a feeling that the play is half-baked, but you won't hear me complaining (at least, not on that score).
But let’s talk plot. Professor Jones is summoned into an office (we’re never told exactly what this office is or who the people running it are, but it seems like a college diversity and inclusion department) to be told he’s been fired due to some inappropriate comments. What those comments are and who he made them to is confidential, though a few murky and obviously erroneous details emerge later. Dr. Ram (a woman who holds some vague position in this unidentified office, but is clearly out of her depth) keeps repeating phrases like “let’s create a space,” “let’s pivot,” and “let’s start a conversation” without elaborating or taking any further action on anything whatsoever. It's enough to slowly drive a person insane.
She’s soon joined by another unidentified college professional, and then another. (None of them, to Professor Jones’s dismay, are the looked-for diversity “expert.”) Among other things, they question Professor Jones about his opinions on Shakespeare, his knowledge of his students’ sexuality, and the bike-riding, gum-stealing gang he belonged to as a child. Why? Your guess is as good as mine.
It’s not that there’s nothing here—Zurkowski clearly has a knack for satirical, farcical comedy and several of the laughs he gets from the audience are well-deserved—it’s just that the play feels like a first draft, and one desperately in need of revision. It was toward the end, after the entire office has been notified of their termination and one of them seizes a rope ladder to escape out the window, that I realized there was a golden absurdist comedy in there somewhere, trying to get out. Like a true undergraduate, College Fun is full of potential: it just needs a little guidance counseling.