Most writers would have given the well-known Hatfield-McCoy feud a light treatment, but House Theatre playwright Shawn Pfautsch uses it as a jumping-off point for a full-fledged Shakespearean tragedy. Others might have traded in hillbilly stereotypes, but he produces a nuanced portrait of Appalachians that would have made James Agee proud. Though Pfautsch fiddles with the facts to make a better story, its bare bones are true: a McCoy girl and Hatfield boy fall in love, which adds fuel to the fire of a long, bloody battle between the families. Sara Hoyer and Erik Hellman play the roles compellingly, and Pfautsch's self-conscious postmodern approach allows him to both parody Shakespeare and pay him homage, especially in the genuinely tragic, emotionally satisfying conclusion. a Through 11/4: Thu-Sat 8 PM, Sun 7 PM, Viaduct Theater, 3111 N. Western, 773-251-2195, $10-$22.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Michael Brosilow.