In his 2001 illustrated fantasy novel, Neil Gaiman aims for storytelling that's both cynical and childlike, postmodern and naive. Happily, in transferring the novel to the stage for the Griffin Theatre Company, William Massolia dispenses with Gaiman's annoyingly self-conscious, clever narration and focuses instead on the fascinating twist-filled story, which fuses elements from fairy tales, quest legends, and Christina Rossetti's "Goblin Market." Even the book's stock characters are more interesting in this staging by Dorothy Milne, in large part because they're played by high-caliber actors--Jennifer Grace, Vanessa Greenway, David Blixt--who know how to create and maintain an illusion of depth. Also, Massolia's adaptation packs 272 pages into a mere two hours, so the play moves at a much faster clip than the novel. Through 6/26: Thu-Sat 7:30 PM, Sun 3 PM. Theatre Building Chicago, 1225 W. Belmont, 773-327-5252. $23.