What Is War For?

Cal Rep's stunning-but ultimately lightweight-theatrical ride

The final image of the play is nothing less than orchestrated madness: the villagers lower the sacrificial victim into the grave and then hurl white ash throughout the space as the ensemble sings. It's frightening and emotionally powerful-a perfect way to end this rather bleak evening.

But, alas, we don't end with this perfect punch to the solar plexus. Instead, we're kissed on the cheek, with the aforementioned small children and the anthemic "We Are the World"-like final song. After four plays that have tried, in Marowitz's words, to "identify the DNA out of which all armed conflicts arise," we're asked to buck up, smile and save the world for the children. After four hours of atrocity, this little bit of sugar tastes bitter, indeed.

Among the Chosen Few at Edison Theatre, 213 E. Broadway, Long Beach, (562) 432-1818. Part One: Wed., 7 p.m.; Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 p.m. Part Two: Thurs., 7 p.m.; Sat., 8 p.m. Through Nov. 21. $15-$20 per part.

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