A theatrical production that blends the wisecracking wit of Neil Simon with the gentle satire of Anton Chekhov opens next week at Grand Forks Central High School.

"The Good Doctor" runs Thursday through Saturday, with performances beginning at 7 p.m., in Central High's Black Box Theatre.

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The play, written by Simon, is a series of short pieces based on the works of Chekhov, a Russian playwright and short-story writer considered to be one of the greatest writers of short fiction.

Simon, an American playwright and screenwriter, is widely regarded as one of the most successful, prolific and performed playwrights in the world.

In "The Good Doctor," most of the short pieces are set up by a narrator who essentially plays the role of the writer, said Paul Barta, the play's director.

"The narrator, for the most part, represents Chekhov going through the process of writing and the ideas he writes are played out in the scenes," he said.

Although the play would work in a larger venue, Barta chose the small Black Box Theatre because each scene features only one to four actors, "so a smaller venue works great," he said.

"We love that we have a black box theater at Grand Forks Central and love using it for performances. The intimacy of the entire production is a unique experience for the students involved and the audience in attendance."

The theater also provides "a great learning experience for students who have to learn to act and perform in such a space, which is dramatically different than a large stage," he said.

"The Good Doctor" presents the opportunity for a larger number of students to participate-about two dozen-but not be locked into an intensive rehearsal schedule in the spring, which is a very busy time for a lot of them, he said.

General-admission tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for students and seniors. For reservations, call (701) 746-2411 or go to www.spacompany.org.

To access the Black Box Theatre, enter door 6, or door 5 for street-level handicap access, and take the elevator two floors up.