Though “auto-da-fé” is a Portuguese phrase for “act of faith,” since the Middle Ages, it’s been associated with the public penance the Inquisition imposed on its victims: burning at the stake. The frail mother and adult son in Tennessee Williams’s 1941 one-act are religious zealots of a sort, arguing over the precipitous decline of their Vieux Carré neighborhood in New Orleans. But who’s getting burned? And who’s going to light the match? Monkey Paw/Monkey Claw artistic director Nancy Merlin chose the half-hour drama for her company’s first production because of the look it offers into a toxic codependent relationship. “It also shows how shame both represses and propels our deepest, most intimate desires,” she says. “The negotiation of what’s forbidden with what we crave, and how these characters choose to act, is what makes them interesting.” Madeleine Pabis and Howard Wood star, with guest appearances from artists including Michelle Staggers and Jeff Alguire.