Imagine for a moment that President Bush is obsessed with killing PBS newsman Jim Lehrer. On national TV. In front of millions. What would the proper instrument of death be? Gun? Knife? Bourbon laced with cyanide? That question drives The Strangerer, a fascinating Theater Oobleck play that earned rave reviews last year; starting April 4th, it returns for a six-week run at the Chopin Theatre (1543 W. Division St.; After hearing the news that Bush was supposedly reading The Stranger, Evanston playwright Mickle Maher wrote the darkly funny script, combining Albert Camus’s existential themes with the 2004 presidential debate between Bush (Guy Massey) and John Kerry (Maher himself). Not surprisingly, The Strangerer spoofs the president’s garbled syntax. But the play resonate because Maher goes deeper than obvious cheap shots: Bush suffers real emotional turmoil; Kerry sleepwalks; and Lehrer blithely asks questions as the candidates veer off course. It’s an absurd twist on the familiar—hence, election-year theatre at its best.

Photography: Claudio Baldin/