School daze: Chelsea Players stage "The Hammerstone"

Jim Kenney, left, and Ken Lamothe are featured in "The Hammerstone."
Jim Kenney, left, and Ken Lamothe are featured in "The Hammerstone." Tim Martin/The Day Buy Photo

If I were a high-concept-happy producer, I might hear "The Hammerstone's" plot and envision pitching it as this: "The Odd Couple" meets "Community."

Okay, maybe that's not really what it's like, but "The Hammerstone" is about an odd couple of profs at a college with "amazingly low admissions requirements."

This serious comedy - do we dare call it a dramedy? - is being staged this weekend and next by Chelsea Players of Norwich.

The Jon Tuttle play finds humor even as it comments on the state of American education and how professors feel they have to accommodate students and administrators.

One of the professors is Victor, who is a tough-love kind of teacher - or maybe just a tough teacher, since he uses threats and sarcasm as tools of his trade. He spars with Murray, who goes the opposite route with his teaching, preferring optimism and enthusiasm. (Jim Kenney plays Victor, and Ken Lamothe plays Murray.)

A colorful cast of characters, naturally, wander through the professors' lives and offices. You've got the not-so-bright student who needs to up his grades to keep playing sports (Nate Pupillo). You've got the cute-young-thing business major who turns up often in teachers' fantasies (Jade Hugeunot). You've got the inexperienced teaching assistant (Jaime Kelley) and the continuing-education-devotee spinster (Lynnie Thieme).

Andrew Kirby directs "The Hammerstone."

The play, by the way, is not for kids. Be forewarned about adult language and themes.

- KRISTINA DORSEY

"The Hammerstone," United Congregational Church Fellowship Hall, 87 Broadway, Norwich; Chelsea Players; the play contains language and themes that are not suitable for children; opens Friday and runs through June 9; 8 p.m. Fri. and Sat.; $8 in advance, $10 at the door; (860) 501-7685, email chelseaplayers@hotmail.com.

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