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Political thriller 'Donald' poses uneasy questions

Little Green Pig's 'Donald' tackles heavy topics, seeking to provoke thought and conversation about power, impossibly difficult decisions, the definition of torture and how to deal with war criminals.

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Debbie Tullos

“What if a former U.S. defense secretary, who condoned the use of torture to extract information, was himself ‘extremely rendered’ by his own methods?”

That’s the question at the heart of a new play, "Donald," from Durham-based Little Green Pig Theatrical Concern. Upon reading that sentence, your first thought may be that this play is just a big ol’ indictment of how the Bush administration, particularly Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, handled interrogation of prisoners in the war against terrorism. Not so, according to Little Green Pig’s artistic director, Jay O’Berski.

“It's an ambiguous play where the audience decides what's heroic or villainous from moment to moment and it keeps switching back, morphing, never an easy yes or no,” says O’Berski. “It's for adults, not a propagandistic rant against a scapegoat. We're trying to stage the thought process of a brilliant, inflexible, cunning man whose strengths and flaws affected us all for five tumultuous years.”

Yes, sounds really heavy, right? And it is, but the video preview certainly shows a willingness to take a not-so-heavy approach to the subject. Here’s the preview, featuring stop-motion Legos: 

I asked O’Berski to describe the tone of the play to me. He said it is a political thriller, but it’s really all over the map: funny, scary, sad and terrible. He said people should see the play because most of us either decided early on that unilateral war was not the answer or that the threat of a global enemy was too great not to take the fight on the offensive.

If you are interested, but want a chance to get your head around all this before seeing the play, you are invited to join "Donald" playwright and director, Tony Perucci at the Durham County Library for a free talk Saturday, Jan. 21 at 3 p.m. He and members of the cast will be there to discuss the play and the production.

"Donald" opens Jan. 26 at Manbites Dog Theater in Durham and runs through Feb. 11. Purchase tickets online or call 919-682-3343. You can purchase tickets at the door if it’s not sold out, but door sales are cash or check only, no credit cards.

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