Omaha playwright Ellen Struve has designed a play whose background focuses on collecting art. In the foreground she portrays divorce, dating, scenes of failure and the awash patterns of internet connections. You can sit and study the world premiere of Untitled Series #7: A Comedy at Shelterbelt Theatre. Struve explains that she’d just finished a play involving very serious issues and wanted a project full of fun. “The title is a metaphor for everybody getting to the middle of their lives or careers or relationships,” she says “realizing that they might not be entirely sure about the title of their story.” She also loves romantic comedy movies of the 30s and, putting divorced lovers in the center, she wanted to “capture some of that zip and zing.”

Artists Mariah and Chris, have split marital-wise but are still living together because neither can replace their live-in-work space. Then Mariah is sent to China for a residency. When she returns, rumors, accusations and other stuff fill in the picture  with many kinds of mix-ups as the couple frames a scheme to escape the boundaries of where they are.

Struve is no stranger to these walls, which have also housed Nobody Gets Paid, Mrs. Jennings Sitter and Mountain Lions. She is a Nebraska Arts Council Individual Artist Fellow, a WhyArts and Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts Community Resident Artist. Her work has been seen at a Great Plains Theatre Conference (Prince Max’s Trewly Awful Trip to the Desolat Interior) Plus her play, Recommended Reading for Girls, premiered at Omaha Community Playhouse in 2013.  

The cast: Laura Leininger-Campbell, Mike Palmreuter, Jennifer Gilg, and Eric Salonis. Roxanne Wach is the director.

Shelterbelt’s press release calls this “a Rube Goldberg machine of events.” As Stephen Sondheim reminds us “Art isn’t easy.”

Untitled Series #7: A Comedy runs Jan. 22-Feb. 14 at Shelterbelt Theatre, 3225 California St. Omaha. Thurs–Sat : 8 p.m. Sun: 6 p.m, Sun 2/14: 2 p.m. Tickets: $12-15.

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