Tranced

Playwright Bob Clyman poses the vexing question of what it takes to make comfortable Americans care about troubles in remote Africa. Interestingly, in his attempt to meet this challenge he undercuts himself by seeming to prove that over-earnest psychological drama is the answer. After a series of panic attacks, an extremely well-educated, westernized African woman (Eric Tazel) seeks help from a psychiatrist (Thomas Fiscella) famed for his work through hypnotic trance. Buried deep in her subconscious is a heinous atrocity committed by an African president who’s an American puppet – or is she also culpable? Her story is so disturbing that the doctor breaks his patient privilege to enlist a reporter (Ashley West Leonard), who in turn involves a government hack (Andrew Borba). Clyman’s elegant, highly literate script receives articulate performances by skilled actors, yet under Jessica Kubzansky's efficient direction, the entire enterprise devolves into an polemic devoid of emotion. Narelle Sisson's handsome but sterile scene design, brightly lit in an austere glare, underscores the production's bleakness. Sat., Jan. 5, 7:30 p.m.; Saturdays, Sundays, 2 p.m.; Tuesdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m. Starts: Jan. 5. Continues through Feb. 3, 2008