Any Baby Boomer who grew up in the western suburbs knows about “Peabody’s Tomb, ” as the Mayslake Retreat Center was known for some seventy years, a sprawling, wooded estate that was built by coal baron Francis S. Peabody, who died suddenly on the property while hunting in 1922 and was buried in an ornate chapel built right on the spot where he fell. Peabody’s thirty-room Tudor mansion became a Catholic retreat run by the Franciscan order, but the mansion and surrounding property was considered haunted and it became a common dare to sneak onto the property and get a glimpse of Peabody in his glass coffin, urban legend said, with his money surrounding him, but not to be caught by the monks who monitored the property and who would make trespassers pray on their knees on a cold floor all night in the chapel. Who could have guessed that the mansion once considered haunted for real would be playing host to the imagined ghosts of Mr. and Mrs. Edgar Allan Poe? Part nomadic haunted house, part Victorian play, First Folio Shakespeare’s world-premiere Poe performances takes the audience on an interactive Poe-guided tour of the Peabody mansion with a different Poe story told or acted out in grand and scary fashion by actors who are taking their shivers literally. This kind of thing has been done to death, no pun intended—one thinks of John Astin’s one-man Poe show and the Dominick Argento opera in recent years alone—but the perfect setting, the keen insights into Poe’s personal demons and first-class performances of his best-loved works make this a pre-Halloween treat that fans of the macabre will not want to miss. (Dennis Polkow).
8 p.m., Thu-Sun/8pm, Sun 3pm. Mayslake Peabody Estate, 31st St. and Rt. 83, Oakbrook, (630)986-8067. $25. Through Oct 22.