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William Inge's 1953 examination of a poor but preternaturally priapal young rebel and his effect on the frustrated women of a small Kansas town ends more optimistically than Tennessee Williams's play on a similar theme, Sweet Bird of Youth. Under the reserved direction of Kevin Theis, the actors in this open-air Oak Park Festival Theatre production lend depth to personalities nowadays reduced to shallow stereotypes--the beauty, the brain, the spinster schoolteacher--amplifying their very human vulnerability. Contemplative audience members will go home with some striking insights into the gender dynamics of the period. Everyone else will be rewarded with a sweetly sudsy romance for a balmy summer night. Through 8/19: Tue-Fri 8 PM, Oak Park Festival Theatre, Austin Gardens, Forest and Lake, Oak Park, 708-445-4440, $17-$25.


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