Theater: Theater of the Unnerved

Two years later, post-9/11 plays are proliferating. But why are so many of them missing the mark?

The food onstage is sumptuous and real, from the thimble-size beef tartare amuse-bouche to the spiced Moroccan lamb with couscous--pronounced, as the Martha Stewart-style hostess is careful to note, "coush-coush." The dinner guests are an array of gabby intellectuals loosely modeled on real-life intellectuals--a Christopher Hitchens-type British lefty, a Tom Clancy-like novelist with pro-war views, a Middle East expert who recalls the late Edward Said. They sit around a long oval table, with a chandelier listing overhead and helicopters whirring periodically, ominously, offstage. After heated debates on everything from Palestinian violence to vegan diets, there's a surprise guest and an apocalyptic...

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