The lurid facts are these: An accountant in the federal Office of Public Things here has been screwdriven to death, and the primary suspect is his ex-secretary, who has sued him for discrimination.
Meanwhile, one of their colleagues has been fired for inserting some of his Random House-rejected fiction into the Federal Register.
It's a typical day in Federa City, U.S.A.
These events are being enacted during the lunch hour eight times this week on the stages of government buildings in downtown Washington. They comprise the first episode of "U.S. Surplus Soap," a 13-week serial spoofing the government bureaucracy on its own turf.
"U.S. Surplus Soap" is written by the same people who created and wrote" . . . and the Pursuit of Happiness," the live lunch-time soap opera at ASTA Theatre last summer. However, the two live soaps only one cast member, and this time producers/writers Christine Brim and Celia Ribando say there will be more of a shape to their story. This one is as much of a whodunit as a soap opera.
Yesterday was opening day at the Commerce Department auditorium, and the object was to introduce the characters and set up the situation within 25 minutes. At the beginning of future shows, a narrator will explain what's been going on for newcomers.
Director John Hertzler and his six actors accomplished the expository basics with as much skill as is evident on most professional TV pilots, and for considerably less money. Modular scenery was used to create the shadows of three different sets, and one real commercial and one fake commercial - the latter for a TV series called, "Young Washington Lawyer" - were incorporated into the action.
Neither crowds nor laughs were thick yesterday, but there was the unmistakable feeling of creative fun drifting through the Commerce corridors. The GSA's Living Buildings Program can't come to life with "U.S. Surplus Soap" inside them, they're beyond hope.
Today the show moves to the Labor Department, 200 Constitution Ave. NW. Wednesday is the Civil Service Commission's turn, and Friday is the Agriculture Department's Showtimes are at noon and 12:45.