Taking a topic that might have been ripped from recent headlines and liberally filtering it through the lens of satire, playwright Joshua Harmon challenges the concept of political correctness in smart, provocative ways.

Taking a topic that might have been ripped from recent headlines and liberally filtering it through the lens of satire, playwright Joshua Harmon challenges the concept of political correctness in smart, provocative ways.

The result, “Admissions,” opening Thursday at The Gamm Theatre, pushes past mere analysis of the challenge faced by the administrator of an elite prep school who tries to sanitize the process of choosing the student body, offering an often hysterical illustration of how easily such efforts can go horribly wrong.

The basic story line focuses on a husband-and-wife team of administrators who are “incredibly vigilant” about making their school diverse, says Bryn Boice, associate artistic director at the Commonwealth Shakespeare Company, who is making her directorial debut at The Gamm.

She says that Harmon creates intriguing depth as he forces the couple to dig into their moral reserves after realizing that the Ivy League dreams of their white son might be derailed in a similar push for inclusivity.

“Sherri is faced with a decision that affects her grip on her own world view,” Boice says. “It makes you laugh and then gasp. We can see ourselves trying so hard, and the ridiculousness of trying to be even better.”

Noting that Harmon’s dialogue reflects “what white people say behind closed doors when they think no one is listening,” she talks about the steps Sherri must take to demonstrate diversity at the school. Does she need to stage photos for the admissions catalog, for example?

“She is contorting to make a better representation of the school, and you wonder if nobody fixated on this, would anything ever change? Things like this are what makes people gasp, ‘Ah! It’s true!’” she says. “Everybody sounds right, but everybody sounds wrong.”

With the recent college admissions scandal still simmering in the nation’s headlines, the timely topics raised in “Admissions” are provocative and, Boice says, tease at thoughts that preoccupy us as a society. Most importantly, when Sherri’s son does not get into his chosen school, Yale University, but his friend of mixed race does, how should he feel? How should his parents feel?

“Some of the policies Sherri has been working toward may or may not be creating a feeling that ‘I’m a white kid and I don’t matter anymore.’ That’s another gasp moment,” Boice says. “By the end, it feels like Sherri has grown, and we all start questioning why we are trying to make it a more inclusive society.”

Harmon, she adds, does an even-handed job with the topic, representing “all sides of the argument.” After being overlooked by Yale, for example, Sherri’s son asserts that the goal of maximized diversity has gone too far. On the other hand, his father finds his attitude bratty and privileged.

“That’s what makes it good writing,” she says. “This is a smart show for a smart audience.”

“Admissions” runs through Feb. 9 at The Gamm, 1245 Jefferson Blvd., Warwick. For more information call (401) 723-4266 or go to www.gammtheatre.org.