Actress Jenna Fischer is a regular on the hit TV show “The Office” where she plays secretary-turned-saleswoman Pam. You may also catch her in real life at the Lyric Hyperion Theatre in Los Angeles. There, she’s the producer of the play “Sad Happy Sucker."
The playwright is Lee Kirk, Jenna Fischer’s husband. The two spoke with KPCC’s Alex Cohen, who asked Fischer what made her want to produce this absurdist comedy.
The play focuses on Eddie (played by Eddie Ebell), a young man who is quite literally stuck in the backyard of his mother's house. His mother, played by Lauri Johnson, is desperate to help him. So she calls for a doctor.
When the doctor (Valentine Miele) arrives, he's desperate to find out the reason for Eddie's malaise. Soon the doctor winds up with some ailments of his own.
Playwright Lee Kirk says he was intrigued with setting a play in a backyard. "That's what I like about theater," he says "you can take certain environments and put them on a stage and they suddenly become heightened and exciting and different."
To make it feel like a real backyard, they had to rent a truck to bring in real trees, which they water twice a week.
Keeping the foliage alive is key. But Kirk says his top priority is that every line is delivered with truth. "It's an over-the-top premise," he says "and if people act over the top, things get lost."
Jenna Fischer first saw "Sad Happy Sucker" about three years ago when they originally produced it as a workshop production in a really tiny theater. She says she "just fell in love with it."
Fischer is producing the show now, which is a very different job than her other occupation as an actress on a hit TV show.
"I think the thing that's been most exciting to me has been my insight into the process of a creative project, being on the other side. As the actor you show up there's props and sets and wardrobe and all these decisions that have been made even before you even step into the project."
"Sad Happy Sucker" runs through October 10 at the Lyric Hyperion Theater at 2106 Hyperion Avenue in Los Angeles. Shows are at 8:00 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and at 7:00 p.m. on Sundays.