My Children, My Africa 

There's something particularly awful about a bad play by a great playwright--especially a playwright like Athol Fugard, whose greatness is bound up in bearing witness to the crimes of South African apartheid. When the act of witnessing supersedes the desire to make engrossing theater, you get something like this bad Fugard from 1989--little more than earnest speeches issued by literary constructs representing familiar constituencies. Even the "little more" involves a school debate: overachieving white Isabel versus black hope-for-the-future Thami. It's a measure of Fugard's didactic intent that there's not a whiff of romance when these two smart, attractive teens become academic teammates. Cecil O'Neal's direction embraces Fugard's stick-figure aesthetic, but Clarence Gilyard brings life to dedicated teacher Mr. M. --Tony Adler a Through 6/10: Thu-Fri 8 PM, Sat 5 and 8:30 PM, Sun 3 PM, no show Thu 5/10, Victory Gardens Greenhouse Theater, 2257 N. Lincoln, 773-871-3000, $20-$30.

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