“Dirty” Presented by Washington Ensemble Theatre

Laissez-faire capitalism as well as porn begin with titillation and then often end in someone getting screwed. That pretty well describes what happens in the clever and thought provoking “Dirty” directed by Michael Place and now playing in the Bullitt Cabaret in ACT Theatre complex.

Our main character Matt is a finance man, an investment wolf who circles dying companies and knows how to make the kill along with the big bucks. His wife Katie is pregnant. Life is good, until he has a falling out with his boss Terry. What to do? Without a job, how is he to maintain his high living lifestyle? The answer is porn, philanthropic porn, sex without degradation and a huge chunk of the profits going to esteemed women’s charities, just like the one his wife works for. It will be porn for “the Whole Food” set.

It’s an idea that can’t lose, only he needs $10 million to set it up, and that’s how his ex-boss gets involved. Needless to say, it doesn’t work out as planned. They find the ideal porn star for their venture, a ??? law student who wants the money to go to a center for girls who have been trafficked. Lovely thought! Capitalism working for a good cause, but is capitalism really about good causes? It’s about making money, and capitalism is what this play is about.

I loved the pristine white set by Tommer Peterson. Its symbolic purity is in stark contrast to the greed of these characters.

Anthony Darnell as Matt and Ali Mohamed el-Gasseir as Terry are taut with their enthusiasms and avariciousness. Leah Salcido Pfenning makes a wily Mikayla the law student cum porn star who uses her smarts to become her own little venture capitalist. Wife Katie is something of a cipher but that may be as much a fault of the play as of LoraBeth Barr.

Playwright Andrew Hinderaker wraps a whole lot of significant questions in this seemingly light work that’s actually a morality play. It still needs a little work, but you’ll leave with a lot to think about.

Through June 29 at ACT Theatre, 700 Union Street, Seattle, (206 292-7676 or www.acttheatre.org).

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