The title of the Cincinnati Playhouse’s current production, The Book Club Play, straightforwardly describes the show (presented in the Thompson Shelterhouse Theatre), a comedy about five people with some personal history who come together for monthly conversations about books. But two catalysts disrupt their dynamic and multiply the humor. First, an avant-garde filmmaker has convinced the hostess Ana (Kate Cook), a control-freak newspaper columnist, to allow him to install a camera in her sleek apartment to document their interactions, making everyone self-conscious. Second, Jen (Lesley Gurule), a neurotic but tenderhearted paralegal, invites a casual acquaintance Alex (Joel Reuben Ganz), a professor of comparative literature, to join the gathering, dividing the allegiances of other members.
The cast is rounded out by Ana’s nice-guy husband Rob (Mike Ostroski), an uncomplicated fellow who never reads the books; Rob’s tightly wound college roommate Will (Jeffrey C. Hawkins), a snobbish intellectual; and Lily (Toccarra Cash), an up-and-coming journalist who injects sassy racial diversity into the group. Mixed gently by playwright Karen Zacarias, The Book Club Play resembles a cleverly written TV sitcom: lots of laughs, a few profundities and plot twists and a happy resolution.
The Book Club Play, presented by the Cincinnati Playhouse, continues Tuesday-Sunday through May 5. $25-$60. cincyplay.com.