If the title sounds prefer a much more straightforwardly lefty answer to a Stephen Colbert think-piece, that's pretty a lot what the play devolves into after an exhilarating begin.

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To enter Christopher Durang’s main webwebsite, the user is instructed to “Click Liv Ullmann having actually a nervous breakdvery own.” That image of the Ingmar Bergmale musage, frozen in a Munch-choose scream, is as great a key as any kind of to the playwright’s absurd humor, which has actually scarcely mellowed in the 30-plus years since he was first developed. It also illustrates his fascicountry with strung-out head cases, of which there’s a fresh handful in “Why Torture Is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them.” But while Durang hits his note in the familiar territory of residential dysfeature, his political wit is less incisive, yielding a comedy of diminishing returns.

If the title sounds choose an extra straightforwardly lefty answer to a Stephen Colbert think-piece, that’s pretty a lot what the play devolves right into after an exhilarating start. As a lot as they are still a part of our fact, red-alert paranoia over radical Islam, and also a Cheney-style shadow government organization willing to lop off fingers and ears to extract a confession feel favor yesterday’s satirical targets. But that’s not to say there are no laughs.

Perhaps the the majority of unmeant of them come from designer David Korins’ ingenious revolving collection, so perfectly attuned to the claustrophobic warped reality of Durang’s world. Even scene transforms are a delight, through the meticulously designed multiple compartments flying by choose a spinning zoetrope, regularly still lived in by the play’s personalities.

Providing the closest point to a voice of factor in an ensemble of folks flirting through insanity, Laura Benanti brings a charming light touch and dauntless determination to Felicity, who finds herself in an awkward spot. Waking up in a hotel room after an intoxicated night of wild sex, she’s alequipped to learn she’s now married to Zamir (Amir Arison), a smug lover-boy she met at Hooters. In spite of his Middle-Eastern appearance and the occasional remark around burkas and also arranged marriperiods, Zamir insists he’s Irish. But Felicity begins to suspect the unemployed, potentially violent stranger may be a terrorist that slipped her a date-rape drug.

After her pointer of an annulment brings out her brand-new husband’s menacing side, Felicity takes Zamir to submetropolitan New Jersey to satisfy her parents. Her free-associating mother Luella (Kristine Nielsen) smiles and renders nice with the guest, while her rabidly right-wing father Leonard (Ricdifficult Poe) pulls a gun on him over French toast in their sitcom-cute kitchen nook.

Demarcating the activity through bursts of Mark Bennett’s demented film noir music, director Nicholas Martin zips through the set-up with infectious assurance as Durang sketches out one more of his idiosyncratic household systems of more-or-less functioning nuts.

Benanti is particularly winning as she battles to have a direct conversation via her verbally incontinent mommy, or quizzes her father about the mysterious butterfly repertoire that keeps him forever busy in a locked room upstairs. Poe is hilarious as a gruff cartoon bigained, napalming squirrels, reminiscing over Vietnam carnage or ranting around “cowardly liberals like our daughter — and that damn Jane Fonda.”

Durang injects amusing digs at his very own profession — notably at the Brit playwrights that conquer Broadmethod — using Luella’s love of the theater. Her accounts of the suicides of bridge-club acquaintances throughout “The Coast of Utopia” and also “Faith Healer” are a hoot, as is her mounting hysteria as she contemplates the Terri Schiavo instance. We’ve seen her bag of tics prior to, but constant Durang collaborator Nielsen is the the majority of comfortable of the actors at traveling the playwright’s loopy wavelength; the dithery lunacy she brings to the admiration of a freduced plan or miming the action of “Les Miserables” is priceless.

As the plotting becomes more complex, yet, and the fourth wall comes down, the play progressively slides off the rails, its laughs prospering even more strained.

In the time-honored screwball fashion of misunderstandings run riot, talk of “Big Bang,” a multicity orgy opus for which minister-cum-pornographic filmmaker Rev. Mike (John Pankow) has recruited Zamir, leads Leonard to suspect a terrorist assault. As Hildegarde, his enamored fellow operative in a concealed government unit, Audrie Neenan has actually funny moments; she’s a kind of Margaret Thatcher-meets-Mary Wickes, whose rogue panties are attributed to a Chinese elastic conspiracy. But her character and Pankow’s are underoffered by thin sketch product that can’t support the escalating chaos.

It’s additionally difficult to feel issue over Zamir’s victimization as soon as the character’s ugly outbursts of threatening behavior make him a hostile presence from the begin, and Arison, channeling as well a lot Ben Stiller, is greatly one-note abrasive.

In his ideal plays, Durang peels back the wacky exteriors to present the sorrowful depths beneath his characters, yet no such surgical procedure takes location below. Instead, he resorts to not specifically clever metatheatrics and also overuse of mock voiceovers (by David Aaron Baker) prior to handing the reins to an exasperated Felicity, who measures out of character to reshape the outcome. But at that suggest, the play simply fizzles right into ineffectual whimsy.

Why Torture Is Wrong, and also the People Who Love Them

Public Theater/Newman; 299 seats; $70 top

Production:A Public Theater presentation of a play in two acts by Christopher Durang. Directed by Nicholas Martin.

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Crew:Sets, David Korins; costumes, Gabriel Berry; lighting, Ben Stanton; original music, Mark Bennett; sound, Drew Levy; production phase manager, Stephen M. Kaus. Opened April 6, 2009. Reperceived April 2. Running time: 2 HOURS, 5 MIN.Cast:Zamir - Amir ArisonFelicity - Laura BenantiLuella - Kristine NielsenLeonard - Ricdifficult PoeVoice - David Aaron BakerRev. Mike - John PankowHildegarde - Audrie Neenan Music By: