EST has traditionally offered playwrights that are both upcoming and established the opportunity to build smaller engines that might yet take audiences on far-ranging trips of imagination. Less a tradition than a pragmatic arrangement, EST also usually spreads its biggest drawing cards fairly evenly between its three different series of one-acts. For instance, Series A featured a new one-act by Leslie Ayvazian, Series B featured a new one by David Ives, and Series C was highlighted by a short piece by Warren Leight. Well-known actors are scattered more or less evenly throughout the three different series as well, making each group of plays additionally--and equally--attractive. EST also spreads the quality around; usually one or two short plays zoom, while the remainder, well, don't.
In Series C, running through June 11, EST holds true to form. Sideman playwright Warren Leight's The Final Interrogation of Ceausescu's Dog is a quick piece of political satire that is as entertainingly witty as it is sharply pointed. This two-hander includes an interrogator (Ean Sheehy) and his prisoner (Alexander R. Scott), the latter sitting under the glare of a bare light bulb. At first it appears as if the prisoner is an unapologetic lackey for the deposed Romanian dictator, Ceausescu. Slowly, if you happened to look at the program before the lights went down, you realize that the play's title is hilariously literal. It is, in fact, Ceausescu's dog who is being barraged with accusatory questions about the luxury of his existence while people starved. The canine never believes that his master is dead, no matter how many times he is told; his loyalty is comically chilling, just like the piece itself. Tightly directed by Jack Hofsis, it is also exceptionally well acted, with a particular pat on the head to Scott, who, as the son of George C. Scott and Coleen Dewhurst, has a pedigree of his own.