Anyone who thinks The Age of the Fear is over hasn't spoken with my mom lately. They're also apparently forgetting the hearings, both this and last month, in House Intelligence and Homeland Security committees, on putative Muslim terrorism threats at home and abroad.
So as much as we'd dearly love to call Christopher Durang's topical comedy Why Torture is Wrong and the People Who Love Them a period piece, this Ghost and Spice Theater production still comes less than a month after a Senate Judiciary panel highlighted recent anti-Muslim hate crimes and bigotry. Which makes the timing still a bit close to the bone for a work that effectively satirizes a state of collective paranoia that should be familiar to any viewer over the age of 16—and the instant in our culture when a handful of civil servants concluded that torturing suspected enemies really wasn't wrong.
In Durang's skewy world, Felicity wakes up after an ill-advised night at Hooters with two new acquisitions. The first is a hangover. The second's a husband, the quick-tempered—and ostensibly Irish—Zamir. As discomforting facts about her new man accumulate, Felicity's suspicions are aroused: Could Zamir be ... a terrorist?
The speculations precede what's likely to be remembered as one of the worst "meet the in-laws" gatherings in recorded history, as an unlikely crew of, um, concerned citizens use methods that might be termed "enhanced" and "extraordinary" to get to the bottom of Zamir's mysterious past. If the subject matter doesn't sound promising, recall it's in the hands of one of this generation's most gifted satirists. And bear in mind the 2009 New York Times review, which called Torture "a hilarious and disturbing new comedy about all-American violence." Tickets are $14–$16 (half-price on Thursdays); the play runs through May 14. —Byron Woods