Why Torture is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them
was written on commission from the Public Theatre and premiered in
March 2009 at the Newman Theatre at the Public.
“Durang’s funniest play! Don’t feel guilty
about laughing so hard at this hilarious new comedy.”
– Ben Brantley, The New York Times
“You may laugh yourself silly! This
carnival of lunacy swept me into its joyous whirligig.
it establishes Laura Benanti, already known in musicals
(“Gypsy”), as an absolute star with this nonsinging role.”
– John Simon, Bloomberg News
“A hilarious, topsy-turvy look at a world
that is definitely off-kilter.”
– Mike Kuchwara, Associated Press
“It's very good news that Christopher Durang, our Poet Laureate
of the Absurd, has written a smashing new play. …
The treasured playwright (of Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It
All for You, Beyond Therapy and Betty’s Summer Vacation)
possesses a serious philosophy of life combined with a serious
taste for the blissfully, unapologetically silly. (But then, the
more dangerous his characters, the sillier they are.)...
Christopher Durang is Jonathan Swift’s nicer, younger brother.
Only he would end Why Torture Is Wrong in a heavenly version of
Hooters. Meanwhile, it’s more than enough for us that this
freewheeling satire of the cult of violence in a mad, mad world
is a cathartic riot. Nicholas Martin has directed at exactly the
right heady pace. His entire ensemble, with the hilarious
Kristine Nielson, never misses a beat.”
- John Heilpern, The New York Observer
TORTURE IS WRONG, AND THE PEOPLE WHO LOVE THEM
tells the story of a young woman suddenly in crisis: Is her new
husband, whom she married when drunk, a terrorist? Or just crazy? Or
both? Is her father’s hobby of butterfly collecting really a cover
for his involvement in a shadow government? Why does her mother
enjoy going to the theater so much? Does she seek mental escape, or
is she insane? Honing in on our private terrors both at home and
abroad, Durang oddly relieves our fears in this black comedy for an
era of yellow, orange, and red alerts.
stellar cast of WHY TORTURE IS WRONG, AND THE PEOPLE WHO LOVE THEM
featured Amir Arison (Queens Boulevard at
Signature), David Aaron Baker (A Raisin in the Sun on
Broadway), Laura Benanti (2008 Tony winner for Gypsy
on Broadway), Audrie Neenan (Oklahoma! on Broadway),
Kristine Nielsen (Obie winner for Durang’s Betty’s Summer
Vacation at Playwrights Horizons), John Pankow (“Mad
About You”), and Richard Poe (Cry-Baby on Broadway).
TORTURE IS WRONG, AND THE PEOPLE WHO LOVE THEM
featured scenic design by David Korins, costume design by
Gabriel Berry, lighting design by Ben Stanton, original
music by Mark Bennett, and sound design by Drew Levy.
Mr. Korins won multiple awards for his design for this play,
including a Drama Desk Award and an Obie sustained achievement
In the cast
Laura Benanti and
played Felicity and Zamir, the suddenly married couple;
Richard Poe and
Kristine Nielsen play Felicity's
John Pankow is Reverend
Audrie Neenan is Hildegarde;
David Aaron Baker plays the Voice,
the Waiter and Loony Tunes.
Laura Benanti comforts her mother,
played by Kristine Nielsen.
Photo at right:
left to right)
Kristine Nielsen and Laura Benanti watch as Amir
Arison is confronted by Richard Poe. Photos by Joan
of Durang-Melnick Musical Adrift in Macao
Performance Rights Available Through Samuel French
The musical Adrift in Macao, with book and lyrics by
Christopher Durang and music by Peter
Melnick, premiered in New York City in 2007 at Primary Stages.
And before that, this light-hearted film noir parody musical had a
successful run at Philadelphia Theatre Company in the fall of 2005,
winning three of the show’s performers Philadelphia’s Barrymore
Awards: Rachel deBenedet for Best Actress in a Musical, and
Orville Mendoza and Michele Ragusa for Best Supporting
Actor and Best Supporting Actress in a Musical. The three performers
recreated their roles in the Primary Stages production and are on
Filling out the rest of the talented cast
are Alan Campbell as the mysterious ex-patriate Mitch,
Will Swenson as the shady and womanizing nightclub owner Rick,
and Jonathan Rayson and Elisa Van Duyne as the
The productions were directed by Sheryl
Kaller, musical direction was by Fred Lassen,
choreography by Christopher Gattelli, set by Thomas Lynch,
costumes by Willa Kim, lighting by Jeff Croiter,
orchestrations by Michael Starobin, casting by Mark Simon.
The show is a light-hearted, playful
parody of two Hollywood genres: the film noir
movies, in which the leading man is always mysterious and can't go home for murky
reasons he won't say; and the less
known “exotic adventure” movie set in Hollywood versions of China or
Morocco or Trinidad, And in these foreign places, the leading lady
can seemingly get a job singing in a nightclub no matter how well
she does or doesn’t sing.
and Melnick’s romp, the mysterious man is Mitch named for Robert
Mitchum. And the nightclub singer who falls in love with him is
named Lureena, and is a mixture of Jane Russell, Rita Hayworth and
Ava Gardner, a wised-up broad who’s still underneath a hopeless
romantic. Plus there's also the mysterious Mr. McGuffin
who everyone is searching for. Songs include In a Foreign City in
a Slinky Dress, Pretty Moon Over Macao, The Chase,
and Ticky, Ticky, Tocky Bangkok.
(Photo above right: Rachel deBenedet.
Photo above left: Orville Mendoza, Michele Ragu.
Photos by Mark Garvin)
Performance rights are through
To buy the CD on amazon.com, here is the link.
Mrs. Bob Cratchit’s Wild Christmas Binge
Available Through Grove Press
is published with his light-hearted parody
Bob Cratchit’s Wild Christmas Binge
in a paperback volume published by Grove Press.
was a hit in 2005 in its joint premiere at the McCarter Theatre in
Princeton and Playwrights Horizons in New York. Starring Kristine
Nielsen and directed by Emily Mann,
the play tells the story of a woman who has “had enough” and has
killed herself. She hoped there would be no after life, but if
there was, she was expecting Saint Peter at the gates. To her
surprise she in the “the Bardo,” where a sweet but firm Indian woman
named Maryamma keeps trying to FORCE Miss Witherspoon to
reincarnate, which she refuses to do. Eventually she’s forced to go
back to earth, all though her lives keep being short.
It is a comedy, but a thoughtful one. The other actors in the play
were Mahira Kakkar as Maryamma, Colleen Werthmann as the mother,
Jeremy Shamos as the father and later as Gandalf, and Linda Gravatt
was the Woman in a Hat. The play was named one of the Ten Best
Plays of 2005 by Time Magazine and Newsday, and was a finalist for
the Pulitizer Prize.
“This is Durang at the top
of his metaphysical, apocalyptic, high- and pop-culture game...” –
Linda Winer, Newsday.
“An endearingly meditative farce… it’s a pleasure to note that [Durang]
hasn’t lost his screwball.” –
Richard Corliss, Time.
Mrs. Bob Cratchit’s Wild
Christmas Binge is
playful Dickens romp in which Scrooge’s journey to redemption is
torpedoed by an out-of-control Mrs. Cratchit, who’s sick of all the
suffering in her life and wants to get drunk and jump off London
has been getting enthusiastic emails from people doing the play
around the country at Christmas time.)
Reviews from the original production at City Theatre:
“A hilarious success. … [the
show] goes in so many wonderfully loony directions at once.”–
Gordon Spencer, Pittsburgh
Pulp. “Fiendishly funny” –
Doug Shanaberger, Observor-Reporter. “Durang is the toast of Pittsburgh!” –
Edna Welthorpe, Daily
short introduction written by Durang, the book is available now.
(search under Durang).
(Cover Design by Wendy Lai,
Photograph by Peter Cook,
Artwork courtesy of McCarter Theatre.)
performance rights to both plays are handled by
Dramatists Play Services.