CHAUTAUQUA - Once again, Chautauqua audiences are being invited to the first breaths of a future Great American Play.
The first New Play Workshop of the 2012 season opened Thursday at the Bratton Family Theater. The workshops take scripts which are fresh from the pens of their authors, and allow the author to hear people saying the words he has written and to see them doing the actions he has described. The actors perform with their scripts in their hands, because each evening, the playwright makes changes - some tiny and some substantial - with the result that the next evening's audience sees the new and improved version.
The first work to be workshopped this season is ''Everything Is Ours'' by Nikole Beckwith. Tuesday's performance had many outrageously funny moments, and one imagined the playwright scribbling away to reshape the script.
The plot centers on Sara and Mitchell. They are an attractive, fabulously wealthy, unmarried couple in their early thirties, who have acquired so much wealth from a relatively meaningless website they have invented that they hardly even live their lives, any more. They have a maid, and a pair of live-in interns, and a long list of lawyers and managers and other people who do everything for them.
One day, which chances to be at the beginning of a holiday weekend, when many of their employees are off duty, they have two unexpected events. A man who was a friend of Mitchell's back in elementary school drops in with his new wife, for a reunion, and an attorney arrives at the door to announce that Sara is the nearest of kin to a 10-year-old child, whose parents have died, and the child is now hers.
Lisa Joyce and Dave Quay were suitably attractive and ''cool'' as the central couple. The degree to which the characters are exaggerations is itself a commentary on a society in which we watch television shows of people out shopping for their first ''starter home,'' with budgets of $600,000 and the inability to consider life without granite counter tops. Both throw away lines which could seem exaggerated, with splendid self-absorption.
Adam Harrington was an audience favorite due to his remarkable timing as the attorney bringing the child, the childhood friend, trying to resurrect a friendship which really had barely happened, and as a postal delivery person whom Sara can't understand is not in her employ.
Kelsey Didion often played straight man to his comedy, as his wife, and she did it very well.
All the way out of the theater, the audience was talking about the great and mature skills of young Katie Keenan, who presented the new-found child with great openness and believability. Brava!
Like a skit from ''Saturday Night Live,'' ''Everything is Ours'' has some very funny ideas and some genuine commentary on contemporary values. Like those skits, the cast was very talented and attractive, and really invested themselves in making it work. Director Adrienne Campbell-Holt made some things work effectively, which on reflection, were pretty far out of the box.
It was wonderful to be ''in'' on the beginnings of this play, and I can't wait to see where it will go from here.