Tennessee Williams never did things by half--his plays, whether the early brilliant ones or later cracked ones, are full-throttle explorations of the demons that howled through his brain. And when they're performed by expert actors willing to push themselves as hard as Williams pushed himself, the results can be electric. That's the case in Sean Graney's intense, often brilliant, sometimes eccentric revival of Williams's 1955 masterpiece. Jennifer Grace plays the desperate Maggie--trapped in a loveless, sexless marriage yet determined to start a family and inherit her father-in-law's plantation--with just the right mix of anger, hurt, skittish playfulness, and unfulfilled desire. And John Byrnes perfectly embodies the ironically named Brick, her impotent, alcoholic, probably homosexual husband. His every gesture when he's with Maggie communicates both unexpressed frustration and sexual disgust. In fact every casting choice in this Hypocrites production feels right, and every role is performed with such energy and inspiration that the three-hour epic just flies by. a Through 2/4: Thu-Sat 7:30 PM, Sun 2 PM, no show Sun 12/24-12/31, Building Stage, 1044 W. Kinzie (enter at 412 N. Carpenter), 866-811-4111, $10-$20.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Paul Metreyeon.