"Speech & Debate" is a teen comedy for adults.

The play was written by Stephen Karam and is being directed by Timothy Reynolds. It will open June 27 at the Bay Street Theatre.

Set in Salem, Ore., the play is about three teenage misfits who form their high school's first debate club.

"They are brought together by a sex scandal that's brewing at the school," Reynolds said.

"It's a dark comedy, and actually a very touching show, very funny," he said.

The play tackles some heavy issues, Reynolds said.

"The allegation is that a teacher is having improper relationships with the students," Reynolds said. "Building a comedy out of that is definitely unique.

"It's not making fun of child molestation or anything like that," he said. "It's how accurate it is in the way it shows how kids handle things.

"There's a lot of painful things that are brought up," Reynolds said. "How the students respond is funny in a dark way."

The play is being performed as part of Bay Street Theatre's current season.

"They didn't have a director at the time, but were going to go forward with it," he said.

Among the challenges is the fact that the play is hard on its actors.

"It's a show that doesn't have an intermission, which normally shouldn't be an issue, but having the actors try to keep up the energy and find moments where humor exists has been a little challenging," Reynolds said.

The cast features Travis Coles, Jeremy Kole and Valerie Lavelle as teens and Gail Byrd in a variety of adult roles.

"As far as an ensemble cast, I couldn't ask for anyone better," Reynolds said. "It's definitely a true ensemble piece, and they take to it very well."

The play is unlike other teen comedies.

"It's a high school story that manages to avoid cliches of any high school story that's ever been seen or read," Reynolds said.

"It's not something like 'The Breakfast Club' or '10 things I Hate About You' where we're already anticipating what's going to happen," he said. "It's very enjoyable through the entire play."


What: "Speech & Debate"

When: 7:30 p.m. June 27, 28, 29 and 30

Where: Bay Street Theatre, Club One, 1 Jefferson St.

Cost: $15

Info: speechdebate.net