Infinite wisdom

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Available Light Theatre, known for original plays as new as tomorrow's blog entry, and for vivid productions of such recent work as Adam Bock's The Thugs or Sheila Callaghan's Dead City, now reaches back over 20 years to produce Foolin' Around with Infinity by Steven Dietz.

Under the sponsorship of the Denison University Theatre Department, Available Light presents two performances of Infinity in Denison's Burke Hall. Denison Visiting Assistant Professor Eleni Papaleonardos, an Available Light regular, directs.

"Years ago, right out of college," Papaleonardos recalled, "I was an apprentice at Actors Theatre of Louisville. In our 'free time' the apprentices would hide out in the Literary Department reading plays that had been submitted to ATL. ... I found a 1986 draft of Foolin' Around with Infinity and fell in love. I put it in my 'love-this-must-do-something-with-it' file."

Infinity ended up being produced for the first time in Los Angeles in 1987, while the Cold War's threat of nuclear holocaust still hung over us. Recently, though, Papleonardos stumbled upon the text again and nearly cast it aside as too old and irrelevant.

"Then I re-read it," she said. "I felt that the ideas of fear, fear of government, fear for the economy, and fear for self were perfectly captured in this work. Especially where we are now in history. It spoke to me."

Infinity finds two Air Force officers, Mac and Jesse, in charge of the nuclear button in a Utah missile silo. Their isolation has inspired some understandable introspection about the cosmic consequences of their responsibilities. Not far away, Mac's estranged daughter Luke lives in a fallout shelter and engages with him in some apocalyptically tinged father-daughter debate.

As is often the case with Dietz, he has added a twist in the form of a narrator-like character named You, who guides the audience through and sometimes into the story.

Papaleonardos gets to check Infinity off her to-do list and Central Ohio gets to see a comic drama whose shelf life has proven to be anything but finite.

What: "Foolin' Around with Infinity"

When: 7 p.m. Friday-Saturday, Dec. 19-20

Where: Burke Hall Theatre, Granville