LOS ANGELES -- Where most theatres go soft over the holiday season, mounting such safe family fare as A Christmas Carol and Forever Plaid, Ron Sossi's Odyssey Theatre Ensemble goes its own way. The company's hard-edged choice for Thanksgiving/Christmas is Caryl Churchill's FAR AWAY, a mordant one-hour drama (first produced in 2000 by Royal Shakespeare Co.) about mankind's tendency to not only ignore evil but revel in it.

Set in the near future, the play opens with a stylized scene between a young girl, Joan (Laila Kearney) and her aunt Harper (Beth Hogan), a farm woman who cautions the girl against dwelling on the screams of pain and suffering she hears off-stage. Scene two finds the grown-up Joan (Shiva Rose McDermott) working in a state-run hat factory alongside Todd (Jason Peck). Their bizarre designs are modeled in a grotesque fashion show by eight "condemned prisoners," who maim, rape and humiliate each other much to the amusement of the unseen audience. (It's reality-tV taken to its logical debased extreme). The condemned try to mount a revolt, but are ineffectual in the face of power and cruelty. So much for peace and goodwill on earth.

At the Odyssey Theatre Ensemble, 2055 S. Sepulveda Ave. in W. L.A. through Jan 25. Call (310) 477-2055.