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The shabby Everyman who is our eyes and ears in Karel Capek’s The Insect Play has barely taken a half-dozen steps on the Warehouse Theater’s stage before he staggers and collapses in a heap. “Go ahead, laugh,” he slurs drunkenly. “I do believe I represent the fall of man.” As played by Regen Wilson, he sounds a bit like Christian Slater—and comports himself as if he were a refugee from Saturday Night Live let loose in a world otherwise populated by man-sized butterflies, beetles, ants, crickets, and slugs. Think A Bug’s Life reconceived as social criticism and you’ve about got the picture. Capek’s fable has three sections: The first finds our Everyman observing a colony of giggly, twittery, poetry-spouting butterflies—silly aesthetes, entirely consumed by appearances, frittering away their limited time in pursuit of beauty. The second sends him down among the acquisitive crickets and dung beetles, who hoard in a sort of proto-capitalist frenzy, only to be acquired themselves by a predatory fly who paralyzes them so his larval offspring will have something to eat. Selfishness not seeming to offer much in the way of solace to these creatures, our Everyman stumbles on and after intermission reaches an ant hill where “the common cause” is king. It’s called Antopolis and is, alas, run by a dictator determined to take his peace-loving black-ant nation global. He means to do this by conquering the entire world in the interest of “peace and freedom.” A war with a hill of yellow ants (which has much the same idea, though it’s fighting for “liberty and justice”) ensues. Ant bodies quickly pile up, but of course Capek knows the slugs will take care of them. Robert McNamara’s staging manages all of this with considerable cleverness, a degree of lightness not always found in the director’s work, and some really loopy costumes by Alisa Mandel, including an orange spandex stretch-bag for a mayfly chrysalis that looks like great fun to get lost in. Marianne Meadows’ lighting is terrific—there’s an especially nice projected grass effect—and the performances are all amusing and differently buggy, with leg-splaying crickets, clattering beetles, and oozingly sluggish slugs. It’s so nicely conceived, in fact, that it’s a shame McNamara didn’t exercise his directorial prerogative and cut the play by about an hour. Capek’s observations, penned in 1922, are no less accurate than they were eight decades ago, but they’re far more familiar, which argues for sketch-comedy treatment rather than letting the author belabor every point until you have what feels like a two-and-a-quarter-hour Halloween pageant. Executed with more dispatch, the evening—which has its moments as it stands—could be a real hoot.—Bob Mondello