Year in and year out, Chicago's 220-plus producing theater companies offer 40 to 50 new productions every month of the year, with about 40 percent of them being world premieres of new works. My choices this week are two new plays by two Chicago playwrights.
Fathers and sons are at the fore in Adrift, a world premiere by award-winning Chicago playwright David Alex. He posits Jack, a retired naval officer with Vietnam on his resume, and his math teacher son, Isaac, shadowed by school principal Judd and his football-player son, Tom. Generational disputes, philosophies of life, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and the tricks of memory all come into play as Isaac recollects his life, his now-deceased dad and his teaching career. Alex, whose plays have been widely produced, is a retired math teacher who came of age during the Vietnam Era, so he writes about what he knows (although one hopes he's never had to deal with PTSD). The highly-regarded Maggie Speer is the director.
Airlines Miles, The Artistic Home and Modofac Productions at Second Stage Theatre, 3408 N. Sheffield; $20; through Aug. 12.
Hank Perritt is another Chicago playwright who uses what he knows as the basis of his plays, at least in part. Perritt is a professor of law and a former law school dean, and also is proudly gay. It's not surprising that Airline Miles is about a bright up-and-coming gay lawyer and his intersection with a new client, a middle-aged businessman whose career is crumbling and who becomes obsessed with a frequent flyer program. Sure-handed veteran actor Gary Houston plays the business man with Brandon Thompson as the attorney. The brief run of this new play is the latest step in a two-year process of readings which is typical of how new plays emerge these days. If you want to see Airline Miles, beware of night baseball at close-by Wrigley Field and plan accordingly.