Blinders, Stage Left Theatre. They’re supposedly not twins, but their DNA is certifiably identical. Yet they don’t look alike. The media trumpet the novel pair, who become harmless minor celebrities. But one journalist, Karen, is obsessed with exposing what she believes is a deception. And soon the stakes are raised: these pop icons run for president jointly on a platform designed to exploit the egotism of the hoi polloi. Meanwhile Karen is incarcerated in an asylum, where she discovers an underground resistance movement.

Colorado playwright Pat Gabridge tells his paranoid variation on the fable of the emperor’s new clothes, premiering as part of Stage Left’s “Downstage Left” play-development program, in images as broad and caricatured as an R. Crumb comic book. There’s not a single original moment in this play. Lest we doubt their evil, the two candidates wave in imitation of a Nazi salute. The captains of industry wear pig makeup. A chirpy psychiatrist rides in on a scooter. Meanwhile the good guys casually employ brainwashing and assassination in their defense of the Truth.

The Stage Left actors struggle to render Gabridge’s indignation at his fellow citizens’ foolishness immediate and convincing, especially Julie Partyka as the crusading newshound: she confers on her role such seriousness and conviction that we almost forget we’ve seen this play many, many times before.

–Mary Shen Barnidge