Christopher Durang’s Why Torture Is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them is the kind of exquisite, biting satire that below-average comedians think they have created when audiences find them offensive. Not for the faint of heart, this outstanding version of Durang’s play (the last in Eclipse’s all-Durang season), directed by Steve Scott, is set in a post-9/11 world caught in the grips of paranoid xenophobia, where the characters wonder if their Middle Eastern neighbors are terrorists—or just angry about injustice like the average Brown person.
Tracey Green plays pushover Felicity, who after an evening of blackout drunken debauchery finds herself married to Zamir, played by the hilarious Siddhartha Rajan. She engages the help of her ex-military father, Leonard (Patrick Thornton), to poke around in Zamir’s nebulous background. High jinks, hilarity, and a dozen content warnings ensue. Be forewarned: this play is for lovers of very dark comedy. It brutally sends up misogyny, emotional abuse, and the legacy of John Yoo.
Elaine Carlson brings the house down as Luella, a histrionic housewife who channels a more prim version of Debra Jo Rupp’s Kitty Forman from That ’70s Show. Luella uses her obsession with theater to deflect from inconvenient truths in her own household. A meta third act that absolutely should not work, and yet does, leaves us with a powerful meditation on empathy and how we judge people from other countries for expressing outdated gender-based viewpoints that we haven’t overcome ourselves. Examples of top-shelf legit satire onstage are few and far between, making this production a must-see show of the season. v