According to the dictionary, a ban can be a prohibition, a proclamation or a malediction. According to This is Banned, playwright Samantha Macher’s riddling duo of antiwar one-acts, it can also be the object of one of the darker paradoxes of what it means to be human.
The bomb-blasted set (by co-director Jonathan Price) and desert fatigues worn by the disabled cyborg soldiers (Jeff Alan-Lee and Bob Rusch) of “Reset” — who spend the play discussing their programmed fears and hopes and instinct to survive — suggest a war and form of warfare not unlike that waged by the U.S. in the Middle East.
The Old Dark House-like setting (un-credited) and Victorian garb (by costumer Samantha Carro) of “Winchester” signifies something more gothic and historically distant — in this case, the burden of guilt literally haunting the Winchester gun company widow (Chera Holland) in the form of a grisly specter (Carmen Flood) whose life was taken by the “Gun that Won the West.”
Though directors Price and JR Esposito prove far more self-assured with sci-fi than horror, their ungainly staging of the latter cannot fully obscure Macher’s thought-provoking meditation on the fragile denial that enables humankind’s most destructive of impulses.
A Theater Connection and SkyPilot Theatre Company production at NoHo Actors Studio, 5215 Lankershim Blvd., NoHo; through November 29. (800) 838-3006, atheatreconnection.com.
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