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The Special Prosecutor

*** 1/2 THE SPECIAL PROSECUTOR, Duke Theater Studies--Particularly during the first part of this toothsome excursion into the absurd, the broad side of the political barn is duly walloped: A scuzzy mayor beats about the Bush in a flight suit while trying to bluff an intimidating newcomer, before exquisitely mannered lackeys from Justice, Education and Corrections overindulge their individual obsessions, in overlapping tributes to politics in Durham, Raleigh and D.C., just perhaps?

Number among this show's strangest strengths the fact that it's actually choreographed with more sophistication than much of the region's recent dance offerings (no doubt due to the influence of movement coach Rafael Lopez-Barrantes), as characters not only act but dance their quirks and suspicions in differing variations of the surveillance tango. And adaptor/director Jody McAuliffe interrupts her indictment of modern lobbying long enough to skewer subjects closer to home--including conspicuously namedropping theatrical impresarios.

But the focus here keeps shifting, in a manner that doesn't entirely satisfy the present or the past. Stuff happens (to quote David Hare), but the threads of Gogol's suit don't entirely fit any of the current administrations they're haphazardly placed on here--despite Sonya Drum's overachieving costume design. (Through April 15.)

E-mail Byron at bwoods@indyweek.com.

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