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Subversive Theatre stages Christopher Durang’s ‘Why Torture is Wrong’

Western New York made it through a frigid February. Now, can it survive Christopher Durang?

Durang is the outrageous American playwright whose work has spawned much hilarity and shock along with equal shares of controversy, pulpit protests and promises of eternal damnation from various religious denominations. The New Jersey native, now 66, has well earned his “Poet Laureate of the Absurd” moniker.

Over the years, Durang has spoofed and parodied just about everything – his Catholic faith (“Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All For You”),  psychoanalysis (“Beyond Therapy”), B-movies (“Adrift in Macao”), Anton Chekhov (“Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike”), Charles Dickens (“Mrs. Bob Cratchit’s Wild Christmas Binge”) among them – plus dozens of screenplays and scripts for television. A play, “Miss Witherspoon,” was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 2006.

One of Durang’s most recent plays, “Why Torture is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them,” opens Friday in the Manny Fried Playhouse, produced by Kurt Schneiderman’s Subversive Theatre Collective and directed by Thomas LaChiusa. The plot, so to speak, concerns a young miss who thinks she’s married a terrorist but hesitates to tell her parents - her dad, particularly, presents a problem: disguised as a butterfly collector, he may be involved in a shadow government - but torture becomes central along with a gender-bending parade of eccentrics, some who talk like Elmer Fudd, and a dubious man of the cloth. Durang never stops. Hypocrites beware.

The cast includes Andrea Andolina, Victor Morales, Michael Votta, James Cichocki, Becky Globus, Christopher Standart and Michael Seitz. Performances of “Why Torture is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them” runs at 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and 7 p.m. Sundays through April 12 in Subversive’s home on the third floor of the Great Arrow Building (255 Great Arrow). Tickets are $25 general admission, $20 for seniors and students. Call 408-0499 or visit

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