Defunkt Theatre's current show is a workshop production of playwright Anne Washburn's The Communist Dracula Pageant, which takes place during the 1989 Romanian Revolution and focuses on the trial of Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu, who had ruled Romania for the previous 40 years. The couple was seized during a military coup, and eventually executed for genocide.

This is no straight historical reproduction, although most of it is based on fact: The proceedings are hosted by Vlad Tepes (played with lumbering enthusiasm by Kenichi Hillis), "the original Dracula." He guides the audience through a tight little show that concerns itself with the way that political reality is constructed and manipulated. As Washburn put it over email, "It really was the first revolution to be televised."

Washburn's own ability to construct and manipulate is on display here too, in a tightly wound script that teeters between outlandish comedy and probing political commentary. (The show also contains the single best use of cue cards that I've ever seen.)

I asked Washburn to share some thoughts on why she found the Romanian Revolution interesting enough to set a show there.

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"I was interested in what a puzzle the Romanian Revolution was. After it ended, the question really remained—was it a real revolution, or an opportunistic coup? The events of those few days were fueled by an aching desire for change... but when the dust settled, essentially the same system was in power and to this day the trajectory of events and responsibility is unclear. I was fascinated by the degree to which it was fueled by both manipulated and free-floating rumors, and more than anything by images on TV which impelled people to conclusions and then actions."

Defunkt conveys these themes adeptly—it helps that the ensemble has some serious comedic timing; mining laughs from even the script's more obtuse moments. It's a sharp, engaging show from the pen of an acclaimed playwright—Washburn will be in town this weekend to participate in audience talk-balks, so if you've got any interest whatsoever in contemporary theater, you might want to be in that audience.