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This world premiere combines the talents of two Brits--playwright Stephen Jeffreys and director Terry Johnson--and Steppenwolf ensemble members John Malkovich, Yasen Peyankov, and Martha Lavey. Malkovich plays Kristof, a moody Hungarian count (modeled on real-life statesman Mihaly Karolyi) recruited to lead his nation to democracy in the wake of World War I. Peyankov plays the nobleman's military-officer rival; Lavey portrays Kristof's prim, steely sister, who runs the family vineyards but has no real power in this male-dominated society. The three actors finely negotiate the shifting psychological terrain their characters tread in this subtle, bittersweet tragicomedy, a thought-provoking study of the conflict between idealism and ambition in self-styled men of destiny. Through 6/5: Tue-Fri 7:30 PM, Sat-Sun 3 and 7:30 PM. Wed 5/18, 5/25, and 6/1, 2 and 7:30 PM. Sun 5/22, 5/29, and 6/5, 3 PM only. Steppenwolf Theatre Company, downstairs theater, 1650 N. Halsted, 312-335-1650 (TTY 312-335-3830). $45-$60.

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