Cabaret is like a party on the Titanic, but most directors are more interested in staging a striptease than a sinking ship. Not Blackwood, though: The musical was originally conceived in response to a wave of racial crimes in the U.S. in the 1960s (such as the murder of Martin Luther King Jr.), and Shotgun Players' production taps into the malaise of our own time, responding, with lipstick-coated irony, to the post-Sept. 11 spirit of tightening borders, widespread suspicion, and paper-thin optimism from the White House. It's testimony to this version's brilliantly manipulative mixture of pleasure and terror that I could be disgusted by the meaning behind the words "Tomorrow belongs to me," and yet find myself compelled to bleat them like an obedient sheep. I haven't felt so conflicted at the theater in ages. If life is a cabaret, old chum, then it's modeled on the Hypnodrome.