Young Playwrights Festival 

The four one-acts in Pegasus Players' 19th annual festival seem subtler and more sophisticated--less tin-eared and less prone to ham-fisted didacticism--than the scripts of festivals past. Imani Josey in Grace never gets preachy as she tells the story of a young woman who learns the dangers of swimming with the sharks. And Nikhar Ahmed in Waking Up never resorts to melodrama or hysteria while showing a young woman coping with leukemia. True, the festival curators still seem to favor a certain socially engaged earnestness from these high schoolers, most evident in Karina Hurtado's Shattered Reflections, about a talented young woman raped by a family friend. Though Hurtado tackles this difficult subject with grace and intelligence, it was hard not to be grateful that the evening ended with Jose Requena's Bowdlerism, a lighthearted but smart meditation on the difficulties of writing a play. Through 1/30: Fri-Sat 8 PM, Sun 3 PM. Chicago Cultural Center, studio theater, 78 E. Washington (enter at 77 E. Randolph), 773-878-9761. $12.


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