Audience members are asked to supply the key elements of the plot in full view of one another--you yourself might even have volunteered an acceptable suggestion at some time--so there's no doubt that the Free Associates' annual Christmas parody is spontaneous and made from scratch. And that's not easy with Tennessee Williams's southern-gothic classics, which involve repressed sexual desires, destructive emotional dynamics, and domestic crimes shrouded in secrecy. But on the night I attended, some unlikely suggestions yielded romantic fantasies involving elves and an obsessive longing for a holiday in Las Vegas ("that new vacation town"--it was 1956, after all). This smart, well-read ensemble improvises such tightly constructed narratives and eloquently literate dialogue and delivers them with such passionate conviction and psychological consistency, we might almost think we were sitting in a theater a few blocks south on Halsted watching Steppenwolf's The Glass Menagerie. Ivanhoe Theater, 750 W. Wellington, 773-975-7171. Through January 9: Thursdays-Saturdays, 8:15 PM; Thursday, December 31, 10:30 PM only; no shows Thursday, December 24 and January 7, or Friday, December 25. $12-$14; $18 for the show on Thursday, December 31 (includes cocktail).
--Mary Shen Barnidge
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): uncredited photo.