A phenomenal and gut-wrenching performance, with the kind of vision that reminds you why theater matters—Joanie Schultz’s interpretation of Adam Rapp’s grotesque, terrifying play brings to life a Biblical plague/rapture meets sci-fi apocalypse while simultaneously anchoring the fable in a chillingly realistic basement apartment during a hot summer in Joliet. The actors show huge range and depth as disturbed young men let down by the system, with an especially heartbreaking performance by Ryan Heindl, whose Skram switches from repulsive wannabe machismo to pitiful vulnerability. The play isn’t perfect, and Rapp’s ambition sometimes results in excessive thug culture cliché, a few truly trite moments involving a kidnapped little girl, and an awkwardly placed Dr. Seuss-on-acid monologue towards the end, but by then one forgives any minor mistakes in the writing. Tangential examinations of ghetto slang add much-needed comic relief, and a magnificent re-imagining of an orange juice jingle as a hymn to a character’s dream of Florida as heaven will bowl over any audience. (Monica Westin)
At The Side Project, 1439 West Jarvis, (773)973-2150. This production is now closed.