POLITICAL MASKS 2004, AgitPop, at Hothouse. If you can steer clear of Vincent Bruckert’s unfortunate new play, so much the better. If not, don’t panic. Simply study the list of scenes in the program. This won’t make what follows any easier to take, but it will render it marginally more comprehensible, because the list gives hints as to the content of each scene and when it takes place. The show, well, doesn’t.

I may be wrong, but I think Political Masks 2004 follows a nasty dude called Prez as he rises from frat president to congressman to president of the United States. A cross between Dubya and Richard III, Prez has at least one and possibly 10,000 dirty secrets. He hides the one by dispatching thugs to kill his old roommate; the other 9,999 are pretty much safe because the media–in the form of a single anchorman–refuses to report them. Meanwhile, an Arab-American college student. . . . Aw, never mind.

Offered as an outcry against the excesses of the Patriot Act, the show has its heart in the right place. But everything else is placed very, very badly. Really. Very.