Taking Steps, City Lit Theater Company. Ridiculously prolific British playwright Alan Ayckbourn has a formula: miscued entrances and exits, a healthy dose of boudoir humor, a few mistaken identities, and too many slamming doors to count. If you’ve seen one Ayckbourn comedy, you’ve seen ’em all; depending on how jaded you are, you might say the same of the entire genre of farce. At least Ayckbourn’s comedies age well, including this 1979 script.

City Lit director Terry McCabe, dialect coach Cameron Feagin, and three of the Taking Steps cast members are fresh from Broutil & Frothingham’s recent staging of Michael Frayn’s Noises Off. Ironically, Ayckbourn’s portrait of polite society on the brink of collapse isn’t much more than a straight rendition of the hilariously awful play at the center of Frayn’s satirical farce. And like McCabe’s Noises Off, it succeeds mostly through sheer will. But McCabe’s staging–which allows the characters to cross the stage like ghosts, without respect to physical boundaries–is much too imaginative for the play. Likewise McCabe’s actors are far too skilled for Ayckbourn’s flimsy dialogue. Nothing short of divine intervention can make Taking Steps relevant, but this is still a well-oiled, very fun production.