"Ring Round the Moon," which opens today on the Chattanooga Theatre Centre MainStage, apparently puts the fun in dysfunctional.
The play, written originally in French by Jean Anouilh and translated by Christopher Frye, is a theater staple, according to director Scott Dunlap.
Set in a castle in France in the 1930s -- updated by the director from its original 1912 year -- it involves "beautiful people dressed beautifully going through horrible things," he said.
Dunlap said the play is both fun and funny, contains the comedy of mistaken identities and is a satire on class. It also contains elements that are "very romantic" and "really, really sweet," he said.
"Most comedies are about being ugly, even gross, he said. "What I like about this comedy is it's beautiful. It takes place at a ball, with people dressed in evening wear in a winter garden."
At the play's center is a pair of patrician identical twins, both played by a very busy Jonathan Harris. Frederic is sweet and innocent and engaged to the rich, lovely Diana. However, she truly loves Hugo, the sour and devious twin.
To keep his brother from marriage to Diana, Hugo smuggles a poor, honest, young ballet dancer into the party given by his aristocratic aunt.
Dunlap said a recent British revival of the play was set just after World War II, but he thought moving it to the 1930s to coincide with the golden age of cinema would be ideal.
"Changing the period would not only make it just as pretty but also would identify and relate to the characters," he said.
The elegant set, the music at the ball and the dancing accentuate the look of the play, Dunlap said.
From one standpoint, it's "silly and frivolous and beautiful," he said. From another, he said, "it never lets you forget that it's a play," and it's "quite rich" in allowing playgoers to dissect it.
Dunlap said "Ring Round the Moon" may be enjoyed by the entire family.
IF YOU GO
* What: "Ring Round the Moon."
* When: 8 p.m. today, Saturday, June 26-27 and July 10-11; 7 p.m. July 25 and July 9; 2:30 p.m. June 25 and July 12.
* Where: MainStage, Chattanooga Theatre Centre, 400 River St.
* Admission: $10-$20.
* Phone: 267-8534.
* Web site: www.theatrecentre.com.