Weekend Comedy at South Park Theatre | Theater | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Weekend Comedy at South Park Theatre

Mindless fluff is fine if it consistently hits the comedy bull’s eye.

Sarah Chelli, Jacob Nowe, Michael Shahen and Helga Terre in Weekend Comedy at South Park Theatre
Sarah Chelli, Jacob Nowe, Michael Shahen and Helga Terre in Weekend Comedy at South Park Theatre

There was an inescapable feeling I had watching Weekend Comedy at South Park Theatre. I knew it was the first time I’d ever seen it, but I could have sworn I’d seen it before … many, many times.

It was only when I tracked down info about Sam Bobrick that it became clear. Mr. Bobrick — who co-wrote this 1985 play with Jeanne Bobrick — enjoyed a very long career in television writing a very particular kind of situation comedy: such shows as Bewitched, The Andy Griffith Show, Get Smart and perhaps his most famous, Saved By the Bell. Weekend Comedy felt so familiar because I’d grown up on that kind of TV, and this play wasn’t even pretending to stray from the template.

To a remote cabin in upstate New York longtime married couple Peggy and Frank have come; she’s hoping to coax a little romance out of her husband, a stock type of character best described in the movie Network as “crusty but benign.” Suddenly, in comes young couple Tony and Jill — they’re free-spirited, unmarried globetrotters. Curses! The cabin’s been double-booked!

And that’s the plot.

For the next two days, Frank moans about entitled young people, sexual passion versus time-tested commitment, and a lot of other middle-aged guff. Instead of sending him outside with a beer and the sports section, the three others engage with him … and hilarity ensues.

Which, to tell you the truth, it actually does most of the time. They might have been ludicrous, but one thing those TV shows did well was make people laugh. That’s Weekend Comedy, and that’s OK. I mean, mindless fluff is fine if it’s efficiently written mindless fluff consistently hitting the comedy bull’s eye.

Helga Terre, playing Peggy, has the “loving wise-cracking wife” role and knows precisely how to work a punch line; it’s pretty amazing watching her land each laugh with machine-like precision again and again. Michael Shahen’s Frank is the exact irascible old coot he needs to be, and manages to score a few yuks himself. And Sarah Chelli brings a little heft to the almost paper-thin role of Jill.

Even if you’ve never seen it before, here’s your chance to see it again.

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