InterAct Theatre Company is finishing up its season with the world-premiere comedy “Ritu Comes Home,” which runs through June 22 at Main Stage, 2030 Sansom St.
Written by playwright Peter Gil-Sheridan, hilarity ensues when an affluent gay couple, Brendan and Jason, unexpectedly find that the Bangladeshi girl — the titular Ritu — whom they sponsored through a charity, has suddenly shown up on their doorstep.
Out actor David Bardeen, who plays Jason, said the couple’s relatively care-free lives are somewhat upended by this turn of events.
“We are a fairly normal gay couple living in Bryn Mawr and we are childless,” Bardeen explained. “She just shows up in our lives. Before she shows up, we go out whenever we want. We can go out with our friends. We can travel and go to restaurants. Suddenly she shows up in our living room as a 16-year-old kid. It changes our entire life. We have to adjust in various ways. My character is way more hesitant to her staying for any long period of time and wants her to go back to Bangladesh. My partner wants her to stay and wants us to adopt her.”
Bardeen added that, initially, Brendan and Jason have trouble making sense of the situation.
“She understands almost no English,” Bardeen said. “So the first part of the show is us trying to figure out how she got there, why she’s there and what we are going to do about it, without much information from her because she doesn’t speak any English. So there’s a huge culture shock on her part and on ours.”
We know, it sounds like a sitcom mashup: “My Two Dads” meets “Perfect Strangers” with a dash of “Webster” for good measure. Bardeen said part of the challenge in bringing this story to life on the stage is making sure that the comedy comes from a genuine place instead of something stereotypical.
“There is a delicate balance and we are working our way through that,” he said. “We’re trying to figure out what works. I think it’s on the lighter side comedy-wise. There may be some things that may seem stereotypical but we are trying to ground it in a reality that will at least make sense to us and the audience. It’s difficult but I hope that we will achieve it by the time the show opens.”
He added that the cast isn’t out to make a big cultural statement; its goal instead is to make people laugh and have a good time.
“It’s a really fun comedy,” Bardeen said. “There’s no big issues. It’s not an idea play. The slight idea is about what is a family now that we are freer and have more rights. What kind of family do we want to create? There is a message there but it’s just a really fun, rollicking comedy.”
InterAct Theatre Company presents “Ritu Comes Home” through June 22, 2030 Sansom St. For more information or tickets, call 215-568-8077 or visit www.interacttheatre.org.