Tom Dunn has been writing plays for most of his 63 years, and had them produced all across the country. But it took a health crisis to push him to bring his latest production to fruition.
The adjunct professor of English at Manchester Community College and SEA/SEIU 1984 member said it started about a year ago.
“I had some serious surgery, and I was lying there feeling sorry for myself,” he said. “I pledged to myself that if I got out of the hospital, I’d get some really good people together and stage a production.”
The idea for his comedy, “The Toupee,” actually came up years ago. It started as a short play, which he then rewrote into a half-hour one-act play. He entered that rewritten play in a contest sponsored by the Edward Hopper House Art Center and it won. “The Toupee” was staged at the center in 2012.
“They ended up having a great production,” Dunn said. “They ended up off, off broadway.”
It’s now been staged around a dozen times around the country. It’s because of those productions that he ended up expanding the play into two acts.
“The last few times it’s been staged, people have been saying they wanted to know what happens to the two characters,” he said, noting that the one-act version ends with a bit of a cliffhanger.
We should note here that the play deals with some adult themes, but Dunn said it’s really PG 13. The general synopsis goes like this: A prostitute was in bed with a client who died of a heart attack. She ends up calling the authorities and ultimately ends up in jail. The play begins with the woman just out of jail, and working with a counselor to turn her life around. As it turns out, the counselor is the wife of the man who had a heart attack.
“It’s full of double entendres and inside jokes, because the older woman knows from the start who the younger woman is,” Dunn said. “The sort of metaphor for the play is the husband was going through a midlife crisis and spends a lot of money on a toupee. He ends up being cremated and all that’s left of him is that toupee.”
Dunn said the women — the only two characters in the play — spend the second act trying to turn the now-former prostitute’s life around, while the counselor is also trying to get even with her.
“I won’t give you the ending, but there’s a nice twist,” he said.
The play is being staged Oct. 10-12 at the Historic Theater at Pleasant View Retirement, 227 Pleasant St., Concord. The building was originally a Christian Science retirement home (it’s built on land previously owned by the church’s founder) but is now secular.
“Somewhere along the line, they built this really beautiful theater at one end of the building,” Dunn said. “It’s just a gorgeous little theater that seats about 80 people. It’s like you’re stepping back in time.”
The play is directed by George Kelly, who is also adjunct professor and SEA member, and stars Nicky Mandiola and Donna Goldfarb.
Shows are scheduled for 7 p.m. on opening night, Oct. 10, 3 and 7 p.m. on Oct. 11, and 3 p.m. on Oct. 12. Dunn would like to offer discounted tickets to any SEA/SEIU 1984 member. You can purchase tickets by calling 568-5102 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org