Spy games

Why Torture Is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them

Why Torture Is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them, 8 p.m. Friday, Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday; $15-$18. Ovation Stage at Three Penny Theatre, 2509 R Street; (916) 448-0132; www.ovationstage.com. Through July 7.

Three Penny Theatre

1723 25th St.
Sacramento, CA 95816

(916) 451-5822

Rated 4.0

Penny Kline has a thing for Christopher Durang. Well, his plays, anyway. Kline launched Ovation Stage in August with A Christopher Durang Festival and closes the company’s first season with his Why Torture Is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them.

The playwright (who also wrote Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All for You, Beyond Therapy and this year’s Tony Award-winning Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike) is at his sharpest and darkest in this perhaps overlong satire on America’s gun culture, militias and paranoia. It’s all fodder for a comedic free-for-all that would be theater of the absurd if the absurdities weren’t so damn real.

Felicity (Amber Marsh) wakes up in bed with a stranger who turns out to be her new husband. They met at a Hooters, got drunk (or maybe Felicity was drugged), then went to Reverend Mike (Jawara Duncan), a part-time pornographic filmmaker who doubles as a minister, and got married. The stranger’s name is Zamir (an enigmatic Brandon Lancaster), who claims to be Irish. He’s evasive about his line of work. Felicity thinks he might be a drug dealer—or a terrorist. Either way, she wants out.

Going to her parents is no help. Her mother (Georgann Wallace) is a flummoxed, somewhat addled woman who goes to the theater to learn “what normal is,” and her father (Philip Pittman) is a right-wing nut job who spends an inordinate amount of time on his “butterfly collection” that might be a cover for involvement in a shadow government.

Then, things get really weird. Nothing and no one from Terri Schiavo to playwright Tom Stoppard is safe.

Director Kline connects with Durang’s sense of satire and moves the play’s many scenes along with precision. The cast also includes Janet Motenko as Hildegard, who’d be a heckuva spy if she could keep her panties up, and Brent Dirksen in several roles, including singer and spy.