Nuts, Synergy Therapy Theatre, at the North Lakeside Cultural Center. The appeal of courtroom dramas is the veneer of order they impose on fundamentally irrational events. The wheels of justice turn slowly in the real world, but in this genre, evidence and arguments are stripped to their essence, verdicts are handed down with dazzling certainty and speed, and patently biased procedures and emotionally charged testimony that would never be permitted in an actual court of law are allowed.
In Tom Topor's 1979 Nuts, a call girl is accused of manslaughter after killing a violent customer. Her parents, the doctors, and the DA want her excused on grounds of insanity, but she stubbornly demands to stand trial rather than risk indefinite hospitalization. Fortunately, the personal agendas of the opposing witnesses are quickly exposed, to the embarrassment of the state's attorney and the amusement of the judge.
Revelations that were shocking to audiences more than 20 years ago hold little surprise for us today. But the Synergy Therapy Theatre actors, under the direction of Scott Olson, attack Topor's overwritten text and transparent characters with such gusto that we're drawn into the universe of a nonconformist defying an unfeeling, hypocritical, ultimately self-serving system. Seasoned crime-and-punishment buffs might object to the proceedings, but they do make for an evening of chewy, provocative, entertaining theater.