Subtitled Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Dirty Bomb, this two-person amalgam of history primer, farce, and magic tricks brings Kubrick’s classic black comedy about thermonuclear apocalypse in line with our present-day terror of abandoned backpacks.
In addition to a loose plot combining workplace liaisons, a mad-bomber scoutmaster, and an alienated teen boosting depleted uranium from his father’s food irradiation plant—after doses equal to “3 million chest X rays,” the food is “super-rad!”—the show includes clips from Dr. Strangelove and the Whitney Houston vehicle The Bodyguard (yielding a visual joke starring lacy panties). Steve Cuiffo performs sleight-of-hand illusions plus the parts of father, son, and madman (sometimes in split costume, the better to dialogue and brawl with himself), and ably resurrects Lenny Bruce—”The war on terror. It’s heavy, man”—to expose the absurdity of the Bush administration’s duct-tape and plastic-tarp fear-mongering. Maggie Hoffman embodies both a coquettish, lovelorn exec and a jaded narrator who lectures the audience about nuclear horrors using a Geiger counter as beat box: “Unfortunately, the song this radiation is singing lasts about 40 million years.” In 75 minutes, the pair make a case for laughter trumping fundamentalism.