Why Torture Is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them
Christopher Durangs Loony Tunes aesthetic with the help of Daniel Hennings perfectly modulated direction is swashed onto our so-called war on terror. Thank goodness Durang has moved beyond family dysfunction. Still, youd think that by now our recent history, propelled by some deranged might-makes-right cabal from a powerful coven of loons, has been exhausted by American playwrights. Durangs outrage and piety, however, are channeled into a breath of comedic napalm, something like a cross between The Marriage of Bette and Boo and Dr. Strangelove. Durang has now joined ranks with Dario Fo. Sweet Felicity (stylish Rhea Seehorn, trying to be sensible in a world with no sense) wakes up in bed with a stranger, Zamir (Sunil Malhotra), after a night out at a bar. Turns out, Zamir slipped her a drug, raped and married her none of which she remembers. The priest was Zamirs friend, porno filmmaker Reverend Mike (Nicholas Brendon, sort of like Owen Wilson with a slow-mo brain). Zamir has anger-management issues and feels badly that most of the women in his family are dead. This is cold comfort for Felicity. Yet she finds herself compelled to defend her husband when her Dick Cheneyemulating father, Leonard (Mike Genovese) a volunteer in the shadow government drags Zamir him into the torture chamber hed been claiming is a private closet for his butterfly collection. Narrator and power drillwielding torture-room assistant Loony Tunes (Alec Mapa) encourages Leonard to bweak a finger, bweak a finger all of which is based on a misunderstanding by Leonards spy, Hildegard (Catherine Hicks, spending a good portion of the play with underwear swishing around her ankles), who overhearing Zamirs conversation about a porno movie believes hes describing a terrorist plot. Durang reruns the ending a couple of times, trying to capture the moment where it all it being the sad plight of our country went so wrong. I particularly enjoyed Christine Estabrook as Leonards blissed-out, seething wife, Luella, who cant stop talking about the theater, even while torture is being committed upstairs, because theater is whats real. And what has she seen lately? Two-hundred fifty plays by Martin McDonagh and David Hare. Britain of course dominates our theaters new plays, obviously because Americans are stupid. Durang is getting a lot off his chest, and off ours. The laughter he generates is from nonsense about nonsense, unnervingly true and cathartic, and beautifully performed. Stella Adler Theatre, 6773 Hollywood Blvd. (2nd floor), Hlywd.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru March 14. (323) 661-9827.
Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Starts: Feb. 6. Continues through March 14, 2010
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