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Irish playwright Frank McGuinness has tackled the horrors of war before, in plays like Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme and the hostage drama Someone Who'll Watch Over Me. But he's outdone himself with this translation of Euripides' grimmest tragedy: McGuinness's Hecuba is transcendent in its stark nihilism yet studded with well-placed contemporary locutions, as when one of the women in the chorus contemptuously refers to "kiss-ass Odysseus." With painful acumen, Patrick Mason's U.S.-premiere staging captures the numbed, blighted atmosphere of a postwar world. When Marsha Mason's Hecuba whispers, "There is no light in life, no joy left, nothing," it's far more powerful than if she'd screamed it. Through 6/18: Tue-Thu 7:30 PM, Fri 8 PM, Sat 3 and 8 PM, Sun 3 PM, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Navy Pier, 800 E. Grand, 312-595-5600, $42-$56.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Liz Lauren.

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