Your lover’s leaving you, your job is in shambles, you’re kidnapped by fundamentalist Islamic terrorists–what’s an 80s guy to do? Keith Reddin’s sharp, swift play wryly targets the philosophical conflict between the religious zealots of the Middle East and the spiritually empty compulsive achievers of the West. In extending the play’s engagement, the Remains Theatre has brought in Gary Cole (a Remains cofounder now associated with Steppenwolf) to replace William L. Petersen in the leading role of Paul, a corporate wheeler-dealer caught up in life-altering personal and political crises. Cole’s performance shows how an actor’s interpretation of his role can subtly but significantly affect a whole script: Cole plays Reddin’s moments of surreally satiric comedy deftly, but he also imbues the slick and shallow Paul with a physical vitality and human resonance that makes Paul’s confrontation with his own life’s lack of meaning real, sad, and chilling to an audience. Cole’s performance richens the work of the show’s other fine actors–especially Steve Pickering as an American educated Arab revolutionary and Alan Novak as Paul’s smug professional rival–and deepens the drama in Reddin’s play without compromising its off-kilter but never illogical humor. Goodman Theatre Studio, through January 17 (200 S. Columbus, 443-3800). Tuesday-Friday, 8 PM; Saturday, 6:30 and 9 PM; Sunday, 7 PM. $14-$18.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Kathy Richland.