In Laura Eason’s adaptation of the Edith Wharton novel, things may be austere, but nothing is simple, as stoic Ethan Frome (Philip R. Smith) pines for the buoyant Mattie Silver (Louise Lamson), caregiver to his malingering wife Zeena (Lisa Tejero). The minimal set design, a Lookingglass standard, is especially apt here, capturing the bleakness of the town of Starkfield (what a name), the Frome homestead, and the lives of the characters. Even the dialogue is sparse, though there’s a catch to that: the constantly lurking narrator (Andrew White) frequently steps in to further explain actions, events and motives. If there’s one way to make it clear that a play has been adapted from a novel, this is it. It’s a distracting choice and effectively sets the entire story up as a play within a play. Still, the tragedy of lives unfulfilled is delicately rendered and haunting, even after the lights come up. (Zach Freeman)
The Lookingglass Theatre Company, 821 North Michigan, (312)337-0665. Through April 17.