The new work by Intiman Theatre's resident playwright Craig Lucas is not a sleek drama machine. "Prayer for My Enemy" sputters and grinds...

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The new work by Intiman Theatre’s resident playwright Craig Lucas is not a sleek drama machine.

“Prayer for My Enemy” sputters and grinds its gears sometimes.

Yet it is also a bracingly ambitious effort that explores the human condition via a modern American family facing real, chronic concerns: Addictions of various sorts. The stateside toll of our war in Iraq. Marital rage, road rage, sexual ambivalence. And the need to maintain an illogical but essential sense of hope.

Don’t look to Lucas for a feel-good message of how flawed people can tidy their messy lives. And be ready to find awkward the play’s distracting device of having bottled-up relations speak their innermost thoughts to the audience, rather than each other.

Nonetheless, the Lucas script, Bartlett Sher’s clarifying direction and vigorous acting give this “Prayer” a rare candor and a gut-punch final impact.

Final performances at 8 tonight and Saturday; 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Intiman Theatre, Seattle Center; $10-$48 (206-269-1900 or www.intiman.org).

— Misha Berson,

Seattle Times theater critic