A self-help book provided the framework for Theatrical Outfit’s current production. Walker Percy’s “Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book” came out in 1983 and was a quirky and futuristic look at the humanity’s identity crisis.
Theatrical Outfit’s Artistic Director Tom Key adapted the book for the stage in the 1990s, creating the character of the volunteer who participates in a seminar that delves into ideas of existence.
“It uses comedy to look at some very serious issues,” said Key in an interview with Lois Reitzes. “The greatest compliment we got in 1996 … was people said, 'I was laughing and laughing and the next morning, I thought, oh my god.'”
Because of the comedy and the need to update the play for a new generation of theater-goers, Key tapped Dad’s Garage’s Artistic Director Kevin Gillese to direct. Dad’s Garage ensemble members also make up the cast.
“This is a crazy play! I assumed Tom Key would be handing me a little more traditional,” Gillese said. “And when he handed me this play that was full of these complex ideas and really absurd moments, I thought, I like this. This is cool.”
“Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Seminar” is now on stage at the Balzer Theater at Herren’s through Feb. 26.