‘Black Snow’ is a humorous window into the life of an aspiring novelist and playwright. Paradoxically, it’s also a roller coaster of broken dreams and desperation.

Black Snow is a humorous window into the life of an aspiring novelist and playwright. Paradoxically, it’s also a roller coaster of broken dreams and desperation.

On a dark and stormy night as Sergei Maksudov contemplates suicide, a man in a dark trench coat shows up to Maksudov’s front door to ask for the writer’s loosely bound manuscript and to publish it. The interaction saves Maksudov’s life, but not his dignity.

When the struggling writer arrives at the publishing company to collect his money, he gets only half. Worse yet, suddenly Maksudov can’t go to dinner or a party without someone making fun of his atrocious writing and bad grammar. So at least he can find refuge working in theatre, because nothing could possibly go wrong while drafting simple plays. Right?

Not so simple.There is a lot of love at first. Before Maksudov finishes a draft, the theater publicly compares him to Shakespeare. Actors routinely stop by to say how much they love his unseen masterpiece. (Maksudov also gets his first scathing review before the drama sees the light of day.)

Based on a memoir by frustrated Russian playwright Mikhail Bulgakov, Black Snow pokes fun at the world of art criticism and egomaniacal actors with an insider’s lens into the theatrical realm.

The most obvious comparison would be to Mel Brooks’ hit film and musical The Producers. But Black Snow’s satire, although more obscure, is farther reaching.

Perhaps a better comparison would be to television’s The Office, because Bulgakov’s story also targets needless bureaucracy, control freak bosses, yes-men and workplace rivalries.

The dysfunctional theater company’s much-revered director (Jackson Wolfe) is stout, chauvinistic and hilarious—imagine Danny DeVito cast as a drama-loving Tony Soprano.

Black Snowis a story for people with a stomach for awkward laughs. The plot goes to unexpected places, and if its ending were any less twisted, it would probably betray the disastrous arc of this fatalistic narrative. The moral of this playful story—if there is one? Don’t write plays.

Black Snow plays Fri-Sun through Nov. 18 at Black Box Theater, Cabrillo College.