Gordon Lightfoot told the story of "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" in about six-and-a-half minutes. In "29 Bells," playwright Michael Parsons takes about 20 times as long to tell the story of the ore carrier sinking in Lake Superior.

Gordon Lightfoot told the story of "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" in about six-and-a-half minutes. In "29 Bells," playwright Michael Parsons takes about 20 times as long to tell the story of the ore carrier sinking in Lake Superior.

In Parsons' defense, he's piled two or three additionally weighty stories on top of the doomed ship. As if the sinking of a ship and the loss of 29 sailors weren't dramatic enough.

Parsons, co-founder of Theatre Daedalus, weaves the history of the seafaring tragedy into a backstage comedy in Hollywood, complete with struggling writer, desperately jocular Hollywood agent and spoiled rising star.

Screenwriter Ian (Jeremy Ryan Brown) is recruited by his agent (Stefan Langer) to write a "barnacle piece" for a pampered star, Travis (Brant Jones). They hook onto the story of the Fitzgerald, the ship on which Ian's father, Hal (Jeff Potts), had worked until leaving the sea to marry Frankie (Amy Anderson) and have a family.

After the freighter sunk, Hal suffered survivor's guilt over his former shipmates and eventually died at sea in circumstances nearly as mysterious as the Fitzgerald's.

With enough stories here for three plays, Parsons also throws in documentary passages - increasingly dire weather reports and poetic ruminations on death at sea. In spite of several fine performances in the play, the Edmund Fitzgerald isn't the only thing to sink under its own weight.