Actor/playwright Miki Johnson wrote clean/through, the latest production at Catastrophic Theatre, in just three days. The play, which follows a self-destructive heroin addict, is inspired by but not based on musician Elliott Smith and his work. Johnson is careful to make the distinction. “The inspiration is evident, but it became a made-up story somewhere along the way,” she tells us.

[The character’s] “story is specifically about drug addiction, but as with anyone there’s more to it than that. This kid has sort of achieved the dream and he’s become a pretty successful rock star, and no matter what, he’s determined to destroy himself. He’s a heroin addict; he’s a junkie. And that very much is about Elliott Smith. In a literal, technical way, he’s committing a slow suicide. But when it’s all said and done, it’s a love story.”

Johnson, winner of Best Playwright at the 2012 Houston Theater Awards for her work American Falls, hopes to pack an extraordinarily dense punch into 70 minutes of theater. She doesn’t need three acts to get her point across. According to Johnson, one act is more than enough. “That’s the kind of theater that I like…but I have an attention-span problem,” she laughs. “Honestly, if I ever write a play with an Act Three, please stop me!”

8 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Through March 1. 1119 East Freeway. For information, call 713-522-2723 or visit Pay-what-you-can.
Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m. Starts: Feb. 7. Continues through March 1, 2014

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Olivia Flores Alvarez