Early in novelist Kate Atkinson's first play, a divorced historian remarks that her recently purchased Victorian mansion once belonged to an author of "dreadful gothic romances." All too soon we realize that Atkinson is about to present us with another--or two, actually. One is set in the present, the other in 1865 and features the house's earlier inhabitants, but both stories revolve around a melancholy bluestocking whose orphaned status makes her vulnerable to abuse. Under David Kropp's direction, a sturdy ensemble strives to give the generic characters and their equally generic attitudes some credibility. But the protagonists' wholly foreseeable destinies soon cease to engage us--a shame when the play runs nearly three hours. Through 2/19: Thu-Sat 8 PM, Sun 3 PM, Actors Workshop Theatre, 1044 W. Bryn Mawr, 773-728-7529, $20-$25, industry nights Thu.