Friday, April 03, 2009

Why Torture Is Wrong, And The People Who Love Them

Photo/Joan Marcus

The panties of one of Christopher Durang's characters best describe his new play, Why Torture Is Wrong, And The People Who Love Them: all that stretched-out elastic causes her underwear to keep dropping. When she’s called on it (“They’re down about your ankles like some insane shoe accessory”), she replies, “I’m not doing it on purpose. Just ignore it. You should be looking at my face anyway.” Well, Durang’s not going off on all these riffs on purpose either—it’s just the manic way he writes. And this is the problem: his lack of focus undercuts his attempts to use political absurdity. We don't care enough for Felicity (Laura Benanti) or Zamir (Amir Arison) to care about them (flat actors in addition to flat characters), and though we'll always laugh in the hands of experts like Kristine Nielsen, who plays Felicity’s ditzy, theater-obsessed mother, there's not enough bite out of her counterpart, Richard Poe, the Felicity's opinion-crazed conservative father, to help project out of the one-dimensional box everyone's locked in. The result comes across like David Mamet's November (which will be good news to some), but at least David Korins's spinning set gives it a pretty face!

[Read on]

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