While Edward Albee was mining the family-as-prison metaphor early in his career, a lesser-known contemporary worked the same angle but took an increasingly naturalistic approach. Frank D. Gilroy's 1965 The Subject Was Roses shows a young veteran on three successive mornings in the kitchen of his childhood home, where 20 years of unresolved conflicts between his parents have spun into out-and-out war. While the play deals almost entirely with surface concerns--in stark contrast to the underlying tensions of Albee's work--its reportorial tone is nonetheless artful and engaging. Shade Murray's taut staging for Writers' Theatre works as both elegant museum piece and brooding meditation on loss. Jack Magaw's lush scenic design potently evokes the time and place, and Murray and his cast reveal the demarcation between the arrogant uprightness of the early 60s and the coming countercultural revolution, which fostered a different kind of idealism. Through 7/10: Tue-Fri 8 PM, Sat 5 and 8 PM, Sun 2:30 and 6 PM. Books on Vernon, Nicholas Pennell Theatre, 664 Vernon, Glencoe, 847-242-6000. $45-$55.