Jeffrey Carpenter and Tony Bingham
in The Missionary Position
(© John Schisler)
Jeffrey Carpenter and Tony Bingham
in The Missionary Position
(© John Schisler)
"I think a panacea to the crazy way of the world is to really laugh your ass off in the theater," says Tracy Brigden, who is directing Keith Reddin's new political comedy The Missionary Position at Merrimack Repertory Theatre in Lowell, Massachusetts.

The work centers around a representative of a Christian organization who is on the campaign trail with a Presidential candidate. While this set-up may seem poised to make fun of Republicans more than Democrats, Brigden assures that the humor is bi-partisan, and what's really ridiculed are "people who are extreme in their viewpoints, and not open to discussion or a conversation with others about compromise. The title obviously has a sexual connotation, but it's also about preaching to convert people to your side."

The play was commissioned by Pittsburgh's City Theatre, where Brigden is artistic director, and where the production was initially mounted last spring. "The reason I think American writers don't do a lot of plays about contemporary politics is that by the time they go through the journey to get the play on stage in America, the subject matter is passé and dead," states Brigden. "We put it on the City Theatre schedule before we had even seen the script, because we wanted to get it on prior to the election."

The director and playwright have made a few changes for the Merrimack staging, with the most significant one being to condense the action so that the entire play takes place during primary season. "It felt too elongated before," she says. "The play has this natural engine where the steam builds as it gets closer and closer to the conventions -- and then spins out of control and gets really funny."