Terrence McNally

Presented as a double-bill with Sweet Eros.

In Witness a gagged victim is trussed up in a chair, this time a man. His captor hopes to assassinate the President of the US during a motorcade, and he wants a witness to his own sanity in committing the act. The stuff of madness has been crammed into this young would-be assassin's head, principally by newspaper reading and television viewing. He knows all about the cabinet crises in Lebanon, but he doesn't know right from wrong. He hopes to resolve his baffled impotence with a high-powered rifle shot.

Another potential witness shows up on the scene, a hilariously surly window washer, a sharply drawn caricature of the New York City 'prole' ("I may be 40 stories up but I'm the man in the street"), who coolly surveys the tied-up man straining to free his bonds and ignores his gagged pleas and his plight with magnificent aplomb. An atmosphere of hysterical malediction gradually infests the room, until, at the crucial moment, the young man loses his chance for infamous glory as a hundred assassins gun down the President in a communal murder.

Despite its grisly theme, the play is acridly funny in its satire of a society that, in the playwright's view, is teetering toward terror, anarchy and nihilism.