Playwright David E. Talbert is laid back and comfortable, sipping tea and chatting about his successful comedy, "Tellin' It Like It 'Tiz," now playing through Sunday at the Lyric Opera House.
"So, when I showed the rough draft of the script to my mother," he says casually, "she . . ."
To be sure, there's little profanity in the Morgan State University graduate's show, nothing overt enough to bring the censors running, but let's be frank -- we're talking about a sexual farce here, good old-fashioned burlesque, a ribald comedy that pulls no punches.
"Raunchy and raw" was how Mr. Talbert, himself, described it. Not the sort of thing, one would think, to ship home to mom.
Mr. Talbert chuckles.
"My mother," he says, "is a very interesting woman. Actually, she's been very supportive and very helpful. There was one scene that she thought was vulgar and when I thought about it, I realized she was right, so I changed it a little, made it more suggestive than outright . . . There was another scene, when one of the characters gave a speech about abortion she thought was too melodramatic and unrealistic. She was right about that, too. So, I made it lighter and shorter, more in keeping with the overall tone of the play.
"This is a show," continues Mr. Talbert, "that says things without saying them. We allude to everything in the whole wide world, but do we really say it? No. Somebody told me this was the cleanest dirty play they'd ever seen."
Mr. Talbert, 25, is the proverbial local boy makes good.
He was born and raised in nearby Washington. After graduating with a bachelor's degree in marketing from Morgan, he was the host of a talk show on the campus radio station, WEAA-FM.
And then, three summers ago, he went West to seek his fortune. He worked for a year at a commercial radio station in Los Angeles before quitting to work on "Like It 'Tiz."
Now he returns with his first stage-produced play, selling to packed houses across the country.
"Tellin' It Like It 'Tiz" features four men and four women discussing -- frankly -- their battles with the opposite sex.
The philosophy of the first two acts might be summarized by the line, "All men are dogs. Some can be sent to obedience school to be trained."
By the third act, however, the play reveals a moral: Promiscuity, sexual irresponsibility, "dogging" women, are a ticket to failure. The moral, unfortunately, is directed entirely at men and Mr. Talbert has caught some heat about that.
"I know, I know, I sold out on that one," says Mr. Talbert, chuckling again. "But what can I tell you? I'm a mamma's boy, so women have to win in the end. Besides, 70 percent of the theater-goers are women."
'Tellin' It Like It 'Tiz'
Tickets from $11.50 to $22.50 can be purchased through the Lyric box office and TicketMaster. Call (800) 669-STAGE.