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In his adaptation of the ancient Greek tragedy (so freely swiped from the original that Euripides’ byline doesn’t appear on the program), Charles Duncombe takes a macroscopic, brutal and unrelenting look at the end of the world. Genocide in Rwanda and Sierra Leone, unsustainable population growth and climate change carry the day, and the play, with excursions into a theme that has punctuated Duncombe’s earlier adaptations of texts by Sophocles and Heiner Müller: the relationship between gender and power. Scenes depicting physical mutilation and rape in war zones — choreographed by director Frédérique Michel — contain an excruciating authenticity, even in the abstract. Michel undercuts this harrowing tone by incorporating elements of farce in other scenes. This is still very much a work-in-progress, conceived for all the right reasons. As is, the directorial tones wobble like a top, and the adaptation contains far too much explication. The evening also reveals why theater matters, and how this kind of work wouldn’t stand a chance in any other medium. It’s too smart and too passionate to dismiss. City Garage, 1340½ 4th Street (alley entrance), Santa Monica; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 5:30 p.m. (“pay what you can”); through Feb. 21. (310) 319-9939.

Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 5:30 p.m.; Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 5:30 p.m. Starts: Nov. 6. Continues through Feb. 21, 2009