Set in the wake of 9/11, Catherine Butterfield's lacerating comedy weaves a tale of adultery into a ramifying portrait of American narcissism and paranoia. Swept up in the national frenzy, impressionable housewife Gretchen (Mandy Levin) attends an anthrax-awareness seminar. As she's leaving, she meets a handsome younger man (Ben Mathes), who sparks her lust as her self-absorbed husband (Pete Gardner) hasn't done for ages. The affair, with approval from her unsentimental therapist (Heather Robinson), proceeds swimmingly until Gretchen discovers her credit cards missing and begins to suspect her progressive-minded paramour of theft, subversion and terrorist sympathies. Director Stuart Rogers mounts a crisp, well-paced production, with an ensemble that mines the play's ironies to create a droll snapshot of clueless Americana. Gardner is hilarious as a tight-lipped, self-centered male, obsessed with Wall Street pursuits. Mathes oozes charm as Gretchen's insightful lover, while Corie Vickers adds spice as her vixenish sister. Levin, depicting a "good girl" ill-equipped for an amoral world, holds it all together well. Kudos to set designer Jeff McLaughlin for his wry backdrop of skewed ascending white columns. Are they missiles or minarets or phalluses? It's not clear, but it works great whichever way. Theatre Tribe, 5267 Lankershim Blvd., N. Hlywd.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; through June 30. (800) 838-3006, theatretribe.com.
Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m. Starts: May 25. Continues through July 28, 2012