Made up of a mismatch of characters and a hodgepodge of sounds, Mother Goose’s “Hey, Diddle Diddle!” has been a favorite of kids everywhere for years. The Basement Arts show “The Little Dog Laughed” evokes the merriment of its beloved nursery rhyme namesake while exploring the depths and distances people go to find joy.

The Little Dog Laughed

Tomorrow, Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m., Friday at 11 p.m.
Studio One, Walgreen Drama Center

The play deals with four characters thrown together by fate and kept together through a stream of comical happenings that result in ridiculous outcomes. But it’s not a surface-deep production: Many of the jokes and comedic interludes serve as a forum to address serious topics.

Protagonist Mitchell is an up-and-coming gay actor trying to make a name for himself in heteronormative Hollywood. As Mitchell begins a relationship with Alex, a young male escort, the image Mitchell’s agent, Diane, has constructed for him as being heterosexual begins to unravel.

AJ Klopach, a sophomore in the School of Music, Theatre & Dance who plays Mitchell, said his character has to make the ultimate decision between being a successful actor and leading a fulfilling life.

“The character of Mitchell wants self-acceptance,” Klopach said. “He has such a hard time fighting against himself the entire show and denying his true feelings for this guy he developed a relationship with.”

Though Mitchell is an actor, his life may seem far away from the daily lives of most people. Will DeCamp, a MT&D junior and the show’s director, added that Mitchell’s struggles are not isolated to those who live in the style of the rich and famous.

“Today’s society is still in a place where we put pressure on people to conform, forcing them to be something they’re not,” DeCamp said. “I think that in order to find true happiness as a gay person (or) as a straight person, you have to accept who you really are.”

Hollywood seemed to be a perfect backdrop for the discussion of these issues, as many college students spend a lot of time analyzing and watching the latest scandal unfold in the show business.

“We as young people who watch TV, whether that be ‘E! News’ or the news, see people who are part of (the entertainment industry) doing absolutely horrible things,” DeCamp said. “The play seeks to question a lot of what happens in the entertainment industry, but constantly in the most outrageous humor.”

As the characters struggle to come to terms with their own identities and personalities, it’s up to them to decide what constitutes personal fulfillment and whether it can coexist with success.

“This play is about the pursuit of happiness,” DeCamp said. “It’s subtly referred to throughout the entire show. The show questions how you reach true happiness, and (whether) you have to make compromises to get there — (whether) you have to fight, lie and cheat to get there. But ultimately, we see that finding true happiness is the desired end result for everyone.”

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