Hammond Community Theatre finds laughs in ‘Torture’

2013-02-15T00:00:00Z Hammond Community Theatre finds laughs in ‘Torture’Tim Shellberg Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
February 15, 2013 12:00 am  • 

C. Dale Kelly, director of Hammond Community Theatre’s “Why Torture is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them,” expects his audience will find many laughs in the Christopher Durang-penned play  despite its sensitive subjects.

“(Durang) takes such a serious topic, in this case America’s obsession with security and weapons and terrorism, topics that you think are so uncomfortable and not possibly think of as comedy, and makes them hilarious,” Kelly said. “You think you’re going to be disturbed, and he just makes you see the humor in everything.”

Running today through Feb. 24 at Hammond’s Beatniks on Conkey, “Torture” is the story of Felicity, who wakes up after a night of debauchery to find herself married to Zamir, and later suspects him of being a terrorist. Felicity’s father, Leonard, is also found to be involved in suspicious company and part of a counter-terror campaign.

“Torture” was penned by veteran American playwright Christopher Durang, who has won awards for comedies and satires such as “Betty’s Summer Vacation” and “Sister Mary Ignatius.” The play was first staged off-Broadway in 2009.

Kelly and Hammond Community Theatre staged a successful production of the “Vacation,” which dealt with many adult-only themes and situations, at Beatniks three years ago.

“We hesitated for years (to stage ‘Vacation’), thinking it was delicate (in its subjects) and concerned with how our audiences would receive it, but they did see the humor,” Kelly said. “Some of the darkest things in our lives have some humorous aspects to them, and we try to really draw the humor out of it at every area so folks loosen up and see that it’s okay to laugh.”

Jazmin Barnett-Birdsong from Hammond plays Felicity in Hammond Community Theatre’s “Torture,” with Brandon J. Berk from Schererville as Zamir and Dyer’s Rip Johnson as Leonard. They are joined by Matthew S. Scherschel from Valparaiso as the narrator, Bonnie Johnson from Dyer as Felicity’s mother, Luella and Chong Choe from Schererville as the twisted Reverend Mike.

“I was very fortunate to get a good turnout for the auditions and was able to get a strong cast for this on the stage,” Kelly said.

Due to adult themes, “Torture” may not be appropriate for young or sensitive audiences.

Next up for Hammond Community Theatre is a production of the romantic comedy “Bus Stop,”  scheduled to open at Beatniks April 19. Auditions for “Bus Stop” are scheduled for 7 p.m. Feb. 18 and 19 at Beatniks.

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