We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.

Suck it, Fringe-dwelling wannabes. Sit the hell down, Molotov cocktailers. When it comes to pungent, sex-drenched, nekkidness-obsessed theatrical tomfoolery that often turns out to have an actual point, nobody has ever done it better than Cherry Red Productions, “Washington’s Only Theater Company Devoted to Smut.” I am thus delighted to report that after a regional hiatus of some years (artistic director Ian Allen went and moved to New York) and a foray into art-house snuff porn, the troupe is producing again for the legit (har) local stage. Justin Tanner’s Wife Swappers, a blithely crass excursion into the world of suburban swinger culture, looks at first like a balls-(and tits- and hoochies- and whangs-)out romp about the banality that inevitably emerges when any once-taboo behavior gets relocated to the living room for everyone to examine. Turns out, though, that it’s interested as well in things like blinkered morality, unthinking hypocrisy, ostentatious piety, and the emptiness that can haunt the heart of the habitual sensation-seeker—which makes it exactly the right sort of play for Cherry Red, which once (in Dingleberries) commented both intelligently and uproariously on American body-function squeamishness, and which once (with Romeo and Juliatric) used an upended Shakespeare classic both to poke fun at that canonical chestnut and to shed light (the merest glimmer, admittedly) on the nation’s attitudes toward its elderly. Not that Wife Swappers is high art, exactly: Tanner can barely sustain the comedy and the commentary over the span of an hour-long one act, and when he’s ready to wrap things up he pulls a sudden curveball out of Ye Olde Playwrights’ Bag Of Random Plot Twists(TM). It may be, too, that a slightly more naturalistic approach would sell the play’s ironies better; the sketch-comedy vibe that’s a kind of Cherry Red house style can be wearing, especially when it’s explored with the broad brassiness that several performers bring to it here. Exempt Carlos Bustamante and (especially) Judith Baicich from that complaint, though: They’re the swing-party newbies whose arrival helps bring George-and-Martha-style relationship tensions from a heated simmer to a full-on boil, which means they’re both the fulcrum for the comedy and the characters most non-swinger audience members will identify with, and they’re both doing sly, specific work here. Take their contributions, and take to heart the advice that comes in the curtain speech—“We’re funnier when you’re drunk,” says the guy who points out the table where they’re selling Jell-O shots—and you can’t really go wrong.