From left, Eric Anson, Evan Werner, Brad Bultman and Dani Dryer play liberal do-gooders up to no good in Winding Road Theater Ensemble's production of "The Altruists."


It's good to be an altruist, right?

Selfless concern for others is something we should all aspire to.

But that attitude can have some serious consequences. Or so playwright Nicky Silver would have us believe with his play "The Altruists," which Winding Road Theatre Ensemble previews tonight and opens on Friday.

The characters are a group of left-wing do-gooders who come to realize that it costs money to protest in a truly radical way.

And that leads to some very unaltruistic behavior.

"These are the most selfish, greedy, despicable people I've encountered in a play in a long time," says Christopher Johnson, who directs the production.

"We think we should admire them, and then we watch them commit heinous crime after heinous crime. Nothing is sacred to this playwright."

And that's the way Silver, who has often been called "the bad boy of Broadway," likes it.

While the characters are hard to admire, Johnson loves the dark comedy.

"Each character is so sharply drawn," he says. "It is furiously funny. It has the energy of a British sex farce with a little bit of murder mystery, and it completely skewers political correctness and liberal politics."

And don't let the murder part, or allusion to heinous crimes, put you off. "It's probably the most purely comedic thing I've ever worked on," Johnson says.

"Politics have become such an angry thing. I think this play offers a rare opportunity to just laugh at how upset we can get with each other and ourselves over politics."

If you go

• What: Winding Road Theater Ensemble's production of "The Altruists."

• By: Nicky Silver.

• Director: Christopher Johnson.

• When: Previews at 7:30 p.m. today. Regular performances are 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays through June 30.

• Where: The Temple of Music & Art Cabaret Theatre, 330 S. Scott Ave.

• Tickets: $15 preview; $17 regular performances. Discounts available.

• Reservations, information: or 401-3626

• Cast: Eric Anson, Shanna Brock, Brad Bultman, Dani Dryer and Evan Werner.

• Running time: 90 minutes, with no intermission.

Contact reporter Kathleen Allen at