Naomi Iizuka’s perfectly realized narrative of fairy-tale-meets-contemporary-society explores the fate of a young woman traveling abroad in Vietnam who acquires a peculiar kind of magic in exchange for the promise of her future child. The remarkable achievement of “Ghostwritten” results not only from its beautifully wrought modernization of “Rumpelstiltskin,” but also from its embodiment, subtle and consistent, of the relationship that all modern lives have to archetype and myth. This thematic relevance of this adaptation extends to the smallest details: the woman who has bartered for magical powers becomes an incredible chef, bending over a restaurant stove range like a witch tending to potion. A special note should be made about the technical theater, which is absolutely flawless, with particularly compelling use of sound. Unusually, the weakest component is the acting, which is notably uneven, with some characters truly overacting and some nailing the spectacular yet nuanced note. This discrepancy can be ascribed to the show’s ambivalence about whether it’s children’s theater or not; the fact is, it’s powerful and universal enough for any audience. (Monica Westin)
Through May 3 at the Goodman Theatre, 170 North Dearborn, (312)443-3800.