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BU playwright puts dysfunction on display in Comp

Click on the slide show above to hear playwright John Shea talk about his latest work, Comp.


When the protagonist of the new play Comp suffers a major injury on the job, workers’ comp can alleviate his financial woes — but not his familial troubles. “He was only there because his brother could not make it to work,” says playwright John Shea. “So who’s to blame? Is there anyone to blame? Do things just happen?”

Fate and faith — as well as the family unit and how it functions during crisis — are the major themes of Comp, the newest play by Creative Writing Program alumnus Shea, now being performed at BU’s Boston Playwrights’ Theatre. He set the play in his hometown of Somerville, Mass., and writes what he knows. “Everything is based on things I’ve heard, people I’ve known,” Shea says, “so there is a lot of autobiography in this play and in pretty much everything I’ve ever written.”

Exploring his own roots in his writing helps Shea to reach others. “Everyone who is creating art wants to touch something,” he says. “And if it can open up a dialogue, a simple one, and if it can get people talking and looking at a different perspective, then I think that’s really all you want out of it.”

Comp is playing through November 18 at the Boston Playwrights’ Theatre, 949 Commonwealth Ave., Boston. Performances are at 8 p.m. on Friday, November 16, and Saturday, November 17, and 2 p.m. on Sunday, November 18. Tickets can be purchased online at www.bu.edu/bpt/tickets, by phone at 866-811-4111, or one hour prior to each performance at the Boston Playwrights’ Theatre box office.

Robin Berghaus can be reached at berghaus@bu.edu.