Bernard Slade is far from a household name, but almost everyone has seen his work.
He first gained fame as a TV sitcom writer, with such shows as "Bewitched," and then developed two legendary series, "The Flying Nun" and "The Partridge Family."
He then turned his attention to theater and wrote the durable romantic drama "Same Time, Next Year" and a couple of respected but lesser-known plays, "Tribute" and "Romantic Comedy." He also wrote the screenplay for all three films. The movie version of "Same Time, Next Year" was a huge hit and earned Slade an Oscar nomination.
Among his lesser known works is a light murder mystery called "An Act of the Imagination" that's becoming a more popular offering for local theater companies around the country. Island Players will open its production Thursday.
Slade's story revolves around a famous novelist who has written a book in which the lead character, based on himself, is having an affair and thinks someone is trying to kill him. The "real-life" author insists to his wife that he's not actually having an affair, but then a woman who claims to be the mistress from the novel shows up and threatens blackmail.
It's a slight but clever play, full of surprising plot twists.
The Island Players production is directed by Gareth Gibbs, a Welshman returning for his seventh show with the company.
Details: "An Act of the Imagination," Oct. 10-20, Island Players, 10009 Gulf Drive, Anna Maria. Show times: 8 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets: $20. Information: 941-778-5755, theislandplayers.org
-- Marty Clear