The Bats: Fugitives from conservatism
photo: Max Ruby

In a future not too distant and a country rather like our own, rampant conservatism, unbridled consumption, and creeping Christianity have encouraged a mass exodus of liberals. While a revived HUAC and the Department of Homeland Security hold sway, the Canadian and Mexican borders swarm with leftists attempting risky escapes. These mordant prognostications are courtesy of playwright A.R. Gurney, who again offers political satire to the Flea.

In the theater's small downstairs space, seven youngish actors stand at metal lecterns. One announces that what we are about to hear is a screenplay deemed too dangerous to film, and the company eagerly launches into a Casablanca redux set in and around Nick's Buffalo gin joint. If the political critique is paper-thin (not to mention self-congratulatory) and the filmic parallels tiresome, the lively performers don't know it. Flea artistic director Jim Simpson, who also directed Gurney's recent Mrs. Farnsworth and O Jerusalem, has cast actors from the Flea's resident company, the Bats, and they abandon themselves to the hamminess the script requires. Perhaps they've applied the same principle to the play that one character affords to the U.S.: It's a shitty country, he admits, but it's the only one he's got.

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