A little more than a year ago, Midcoast Seaside Theatre made its debut on the local community theater scene, led by artistic director Cassandra Rantala, an energetic performer, composer, director and producer from South Thomaston. The season got off to a bit of a rocky start and not all the ambitious productions announced made it to Thomaston’s Watts Hall stage. But by the end of the year, MST had presented two original stage adaptations by Rantala, a musical and a drama; a couple of children’s camp shows; a light comedy; and a charming stage adaptation of MGM’s “The Wizard of Oz,” not a bad tally at all.

This season, MST is opening with an original comedy/drama written by two of its members and presented in a bigger, more professional venue. The opening weekend’s attendance might beg the question of taking it to the Camden Opera House, but the show, “The Inferno Bar & Grill” by Tod Widdecombe and Corey Honkonen, proves to be a good choice.

Both playwrights appear in the intimate production, a fact that gets some comic play in one of the evening’s several meta moments. Its one set is fairly simple, as the title implies; this is an establishment with a couple of tables; a bar and a kitchen pickup window; and a few doors, including those for the restrooms and a larger one upstage that proves to have most importance (and some mechanical difficulty opening night).

The first performance May 14 was lightly attended, to say the least, and this is a house that accentuates such situations. Those of us there, however, were prepared to enjoy ourselves and the cast kept its spirits and ours up to a bigger house level. Taking a front row seat was a cast member I recognized from many, many moons ago — in fact, this cast is full of actors I’ve seen in high school performances over the years, including the current one.

The show kicked off with the great Johnny Cash version of “Run On” that seemed to run on a really long time; it might be better to start the music the moment the theater announcements conclude. These words, however, are indeed a great set up for an evening spent between earth and the afterlife. That’s what we’re in for, according to Honkonen’s direct-to-us intro. He plays Dante, the author and the barkeep, and this is his last night on the job.

As Dante explains, the bar is where the just-deceased go for a final determination of their final destination. It’s a last chance to be clear about who they are and what they’ve done, but the deck seems a bit stacked against them. That’s because “the regulars” — we find out how regular at intermission — are The Seven Deadly Sins, all of whom play to the transient humans’ weaknesses.

A number of these actors hail from Georges Valley High School including seniors Kyla Prior as a whiny Envy, Ariana Wadsworth as a prom queen of a Vanity, Shane Lavoie as Sloth, who sleeps much of the evening away in bunny slippers; and GVHS grad Summer Temple as a slithery Lust. Coin-counting Tabitha Ordway sports a Transylvanian accent as Greed, while Rick O’Malley’s Wrath comes across as, well, a gangster from hell. Stealing the show at times, and every bit of food, is Brad Fillion as Gluttony, going Scottish in a kilt.

Honkonen’s Dante tries to keep this unruly bunch in line, “freezing” them from time to time with a finger snap, and his role as final arbiter clearly is wearing on him. Both actor and character have a lot to facilitate here. In addition to pouring drinks, he parlays orders to the cook. Local theater vet (and, I suspect, choreographer for the bows dance) Aspen Jones keeps things lively with her goofy exclamations; she also shows up as the cool and calm escort through the doors of destiny.

The premise is firm and the plot simple but effective. On this night at the bar, the members of a romantic triangle show up one by one. I don’t want to give away too much here, but these scenes are funny and poignant, played by strong actors who keep things from getting too obvious.

Scott Anthony Smith establishes the pattern, escorted in by the “Shrouded Figure” (Widdecombe in Grim Reaper mode), shuffling in deadpan then awakened to the new situation by a finger snap. A drink is offered that seems to lift the veil of memory, allowing the new arrival to remember what he or she was doing just before arrival. The Seven Deadly Sins take appropriate interest as the stories are told. While Dante does his best to help the arrivals make their cases, it’s clear that those who heeded these Seven in life still are susceptible to them.

Jennifer True is next to arrive, playing a woman as brittle as her acrylic nails. Both she and Smith give their characters more facets than the script does, which added to our feeling of foreboding even as we laughed at the many funny lines (True does a Noo Yawk accent). There are clever bits tossed in the mix throughout the play such as the fact the bar’s cook can whip up absolutely anything in an instant. In Smith’s case, it is the biscuits his character’s mother used to make. I would’ve liked to see another instance of that disconcerting power.

“The Inferno Bar & Grill” is tight enough that it could almost be presented without intermission, but then we would have been robbed of the sight (if not sound) gag of The Seven Deadly Sins punching their time cards for the break. Act II began with the return of the front row sitter we had seen briefly at the show’s beginning, played by Chloe Keller. Her experience in the bar, however, is cut short when it is revealed she is an entertainment critic; we all know where they go. At least she got in some good zingers about people appearing in their own plays, and the sting of her exit was soothed for any remaining reviewers in the audience (ahem) by Dante’s asking for a hand of applause and Gluttony’s uncharacteristic offer to share his Cheez-Its.

The play’s conceit heads to fulfillment with the arrival of the third member of the romantic triangle, an honest cop played with sincerity and pathos by Todd Martin. The Sins take to him with a vengeance — well, all but Sloth, who pretty much sleeps through the night. The final outcome for the three humans may surprise some theatergoers but makes perfect sense within the moral universe constructed here.

There is another surprise at the very end, though not for anyone who saw Widdecombe in the Waldo Theatre’s “Picasso at the Lapin Agile” a few years ago. As it began, the play ends with perhaps a bit too much exposition, but I found it a very satisfying evening of theater, even more enjoyable because it took place within 90 minutes.

You never know what you’ll get when you attend a world premiere of a locally written work. “The Inferno Bar & Grill” rewards the risk in my opinion, certainly for the theatergoers and, I hope, for the writers and performers; whether it does so for Midcoast Seaside Theatre depends on how many people show up this weekend. I told Rantala I thought the production would be ideal for a coffeehouse or bar setting, but this could be your only chance to see “The Inferno Bar & Grill.” I recommend you take it.

Final performances will be Friday and Sunday, May 21 and 23; both shows are at 7 p.m. Tickets are $14, available by calling 594-9744 or visiting camdenoperahouse.com.

VillageSoup Art/Entertainment Editor Dagney Ernest can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by e-mail to dernest@villagesoup.com.