Sixteen-year-old Kyle Sugarman lives in boring Fort Collins, Colo. He lost his sister at an early age, and his father, now living in New York, is not speaking to him. Despite these unhappy circumstances, Kyle is excited. His play, Spacebar, written under the auspices of his drama teacher, Mr. Ramirez, is finished and, in his estimation, ready for the Great White Way. In a letter addressed to “Broadway,” Kyle explains that Spacebar isn’t about the space key on a computer—that would be ridiculous. No, it’s about a bar in outer space, in the year 9013.

As Kyle dictates the letter, his play unfolds onstage as part of Spacebar: A Broadway Play by Kyle Sugarman, by Michael Mitnick and now running at City Lights Theater Company. Captain Iditarod (Jeff Kramer, with panache), owner of the space bar, appears in a powdered wig and colonial-style jacket (because fashion is cyclical), soon to be joined by crazy drunk Mortimer Pip (Keith C. Marshall) and a beautiful cyborg named Esmerelda Happenstance (Morgan Voellger) who is fleeing from her jetpack-wielding fiancee, Playboy McMannahan (George Psarras).

At least, this is how Kyle (a very energetic Jeremy Helgeson) envisions his play. As it turns out, it’s tough for a kid to get his work produced on Broadway, and even with love interest Jessica (Adrienne Walters) rather thanklessly propelling the male plot, things are not looking so great for Kyle.

Without revealing too much, I’ll say that the saga of Captain Iditarod is never resolved onstage and that this is perhaps the greatest weakness in Mitnick’s story. Kyle has established a challenge for his fictional hero (he must set the record for time spent floating naked in space, in order to win enough money to visit his daughter), but Mitnick doesn’t quite follow through, and the ending borders on the anticlimactic.

Still, Spacebar: A Broadway Play by Kyle Sugarman is charmingly bittersweet, consistently funny and emphatically worth watching. Much of the humor is pure gold, including, among other highlights, history’s worst pickup line: “I want to murder you and scrape out your organs with a grapefruit spoon.” Furthermore, Kyle’s futuristic drama plays less like an adult’s sardonic view of adolescent creativity and more like the genuine scribblings of a teenager. Indeed, the absurdity of Mitnick’s play as a whole is perfectly commensurate with the zaniness and exuberant disregard for logic that one finds in the work of many 16-year-olds, and this authentic inauthenticity is the show’s greatest strength.

Runs through June 23; $16.95-$29.95
City Lights Theater Company