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CARNAGE, A COMEDY 

Thursday, Jan 10 2008
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Playwrights Tim Robbins and Adam Simon's ferocious satire on the hypocrisy of American televangelism crackles with philosophical awareness and imaginative stagecraft. Yet, even in director Beth F. Milles' tightly paced production, the play hasn't aged well, with a satire that inevitably feels not as relevant or as fresh as it was when the piece was first staged in 1987. Televangelist Cotton Slocum (V.J. Foster) is a corpulent, corrupt old preacher as fond of money as he is of saving the souls of the viewers of his regular church TV show. Wanting to raise even more money, Slocum commences a marathon "holy" walk through the desert — but disaster strikes, and Slocum is left alone, wondering if he is the only person left behind following the Rapture. One theme running through Robbins and Simon's work is how the clownishness of televangelists has lead to the wicked excesses of the neoconservatives. However, the piece's scattershot storyline — part heavy-handed tirade against religion and part symbolically overburdened surrealism — is messy and hard to follow, and the work's insistence on preaching to the converted undermines the parody's effectiveness. Still, the cast's perfect comic timing goes a long way toward enlivening the tired material. Foster's charismatic as the blowhard preacher, and Justin Zsebe is increasingly disturbing as his creepy, fundamentalist apprentice. Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Starts: Feb. 2. Continues through March 29, 2008

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