(Alexis Soloski’s article appeared in the New York Times, 1/25; via Pam Green; the above clip is from the London production.)

An autocratic leader has won the vote. He has charm, yes, and smarts of a kind, but also a cruel streak. Beatings are frequent, and assassination — foreign and domestic — has become commonplace. His cultural pronouncements have had a chilling effect on the arts, theater in particular.

Take your seat for “Evening at the Talk House,” an ultra-dark comedy by the playwright and actor Wallace Shawn (“The Designated Mourner,” “Aunt Dan and Lemon”) for the New Group that begins performances at the Signature Center on Tuesday, Jan. 31. Though written years before Donald J. Trump announced his candidacy, and first produced in London in the fall of 2015, the play may strike some as oddly prescient.

Set in the course of one night, it eavesdrops on several people who worked together on “Midnight in a Clearing With Moon and Stars,” a fictitious flop from a decade ago. They have gathered for a reunion at a rundown club. As they snack and sip and reminisce, they reveal the brutality of the world outside and the ways that artists can abet it, resist it and ignore it.

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