Off Broadway's Second Stage Theatre recently debuted a new, timely satire entitled "Modern Terrorism." NY1's Roma Torre filed the following review.
Terrorism is no laughing matter, or so one would think. The Second Stage Theatre has other ideas with its production of "Modern Terrorism." And while audiences may find the new comedy utterly inappropriate and possibly offensive, this is a show that aims straight for your funny bone.
In giving his play the full-length title "Modern Terrorism, Or They Who Want To Kill Us And How We Learn To Love Them," Jon Kern was clearly echoing the classic film satire "Dr. Strangelove" which was subtitled "Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb." Well, Kern's play doesn't measure up to the brilliance of "Strangelove" but it does have plenty of strong moments, which make it more comparable to "The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight."
The play begins with an arresting image: a Middle Eastern man in bulging underpants being fitted with a crotch bomb. The plan is to blow up the Empire State Building. Too close for comfort? For many, that may be the case. For others, though, the comedy registers, particularly as we get to know this bumbling pack of terrorists, which also includes a Pakistani woman and, eventually, a stoner American character.
The dense plot involves several failed suicide bomb attempts and the hypocrisy of these pop-culture-loving terrorists who aim to destroy what they call the global conspiracy of American hegemony. Kern gets off some great lines along the way but it turns deadly serious by the end. And thanks to a great cast that handles the comedy and drama with equal finesse, the play does hit the mark.
Comedy, as is often noted, is very hard to pull off, harder still when the subject matter is so potentially off-putting. That's why Second Stage's production under Peter DuBois' fluid direction deserves a bow. Making people laugh at the most painful of subjects is no mean feat.