"Exploitation" is a word that tends to be wielded by media watchdogs in the aftermath of tragedy, wherein the exhaustive press coverage is often seen as shamelessly sensationalized as networks rerun the most shocking images in a crass bid for higher ratings. Such views take on even more onerous tones when coverage is cited as a deliberate, planned consequence of those fanatical enough to inflict widespread death and destruction to bring attention to their cause. These troubling questions of media responsibility are explored by playwright William Mastrosimone in his scathing Cat's Paw. A minimalist piece that pits an ambitious journalist against a militant eco-terrorist, the play ponders the ways in which the press can be used to propagate a manipulated message, challenging the ethical foundation of a profession that touts journalistic independence while being dependent upon corporate revenue. Such an urgent inquiry is ideally suited for Theatre Pro Rata, a group distinguished by its knack for finding the contemporary vitality in each of its productions. In this case, however, Pro Rata needn't search long. As we near the 10th anniversary of 9/11, the disturbing subject matter continues to feel all too relevant.
Thursdays-Saturdays, 7:30 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m.; Mon., Sept. 12, 7:30 p.m. Starts: Sept. 10. Continues through Sept. 25, 2011