The 4th Graders Present an Unnamed Love-Suicide | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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The 4th Graders Present an Unnamed Love-Suicide

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Sean Graney made the leap from director to playwright in 2003 with this oddly beguiling piece, a faux school pageant about passion, betrayal, and suicide inspired in part by 18th-century Japanese dramatist Chikamatsu Monzaemon. In the suffocatingly close confines of the Side Studio, director Jimmy McDermott brought both epic sadness and aching humor to Graney's script, enhanced by the spare, declamatory performances of a cast of adults playing children. Now Graney's own company, the Hypocrites, is producing his play--the first time that the troupe has tackled an original work. "We were turning people away from the first run, so it was always in my head to restage it if we could," Graney says. And this eerily poetic dissection of childhood longing and cruelty is a grimly appropriate back-to-school choice. Graney has added about 15 minutes of material, so the show now runs roughly an hour. McDermott returns as director, and most of the original cast is back, including the heartbreaking duo of Jennifer Grace and Jon Krajecki as lovelorn classmates driven apart by the evil doings of their peers. Athenaeum Theatre, second-floor studio theater, 2936 N. Southport, 312-902-1500. Previews September 3-4: Friday-Saturday, 8 PM. $10. Opens Sunday, September 5, 7 PM. Through September 26: Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 PM; Sundays, 7 PM. $12-$15.

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