EASY, written and directed by Ian Carpenter, with Scott McCord, Amy Price-Francis, Tova Smith and Christopher Jacot. Presented by Theatre Viscera at Artword Theatre. July 8 at 10:30 pm, July 10 at 4:30 pm, July 11 at 6 pm, July 12 and 16 at 7:30 pm, July 14 at 9 pm, July 15 at 3 pm.
Ask Ian Carpenter what he thinks of the city's current ban on ecstasy and raves and he's likely to look you in the eyes, smile and say one word: "Easy."
That's the title of his sure-to-be-controversial play about the chemical generation, penned a couple of years ago to recount his own experiences as a regular, responsible drug user.
"The municipal response is basically blind, band-aid hysteria," he says. "Politicians are fanning the flames on this issue and then trying to stamp them out to get people's approval. They're giving folks in the suburbs something to worry about. And all they're doing is driving the scene underground, where it'll continue."
The show, dubbed a "narcotic soap opera," looks at four bright, middle-class characters in their 20s (Scott McCord, Amy Price-Francis, Tova Smith and Christopher Jacot) who take drugs, have sex with each other, couple off and then slide into vastly different futures.
"The play's essentially about loneliness and neediness," says Carpenter. "These people try to get together but end up not being loved in the way they want."
Carpenter, one third of Theatre Viscera, says he's not morally judging his characters or their drug-taking. He even admits all four are different parts of his own personality.
"I'm presenting things the way they are," he says. "But it's still a cautionary tale. There are distinctive results at the end of the play. Maybe I suggest that if you do drugs for too long, at the very least you're going to find it difficult to escape."
Carpenter's directing the show with an eye to the younger, hipper audiences that Viscera shows (like Muscle Memory and Catch) generally attract.
"I'm applying a pop-culture sensibility to the play," he says. "One scene replicates a DJ's scratching. Basically, the entire scene is scratched, with lights and sound moving back and forth."
Audiences can also expect a mildly hallucinatory feel to the piece to enhance the show's mind-altering theme.
"Things should almost look normal," laughs Carpenter. "They won't be entirely trippy. There'll be little things wrong with a lot of stuff."
You can also expect a playful flexibility in the narrative, with plenty of rapid cutting.
"There are about 35 or 40 scenes in the play, with some scenes having just a few lines to them," he says.
"That'll be appreciated by younger audiences, or more sophisticated older audiences. It reflects the way our minds move now."