An astute critic once noted that the War on Terror has proved to be as good to the theater as to the military-services industry that has profited from it. This cannot be denied. During the last six years, audiences have come closer to the tragedies of the Greeks than ever before, seen a flourish of the transcript-based docudrama genre of theater and witnessed the reemergence of gung-ho political agitprop plays. “Again,” by Two Roman Senators Productions, belongs firmly in the latter category, and given the value of its message—freedom and security are not always worth the violation of human rights that are being carried out in our name—one wishes it had actually been a better play. Set within the confines of a Guantanamo Bay/Abu Ghraib prison, playwright Steven M. Roseman’s story concerns the questionable imprisonment of a 21-year old American college student arrested on suspicions of terrorism, while a second narrative strand follows the professional and personal struggles faced by the lawyer who has been hired to save him. See for yourself. A visit to the Two Roman Senators Web site is chock full of multimedia goodies: YouTube interviews with the cast and crew, as well as a movie-style trailer preview featuring a sampling of composer Phil Marmet’s original score, a psychologically dark and synthesis-heavy electronic affair that would not be out of place in a 1980s Michael Mann film and that is undoubtedly one of the best things in the show. It’s a shame that more time wasn’t spent on the dramaturgy, and especially on a script boasting clunky dialogue, a torrent of anarchistic expletives but a noticeable absence of an original voice. Diluting the agitprop format with plot contrivances and under-developed characters means that the show’s emotional punch is lessened—substantially—and that the passion and anger that should have guided the play to at least propose complex moral questions ends up as little more than amateurish desperation content with simply pushing its audience’s buttons. What the morally outraged creators of “Again” have failed to realize with their hard-left, anti-Bush, pro-human rights “recruiting meeting” of a play is that most of us are already card-carrying members. (Fabrizio O. Almeida)
At Angel Island, 731 W. Sheridan, (773)841-0442.