Chicago's The Hypocrites will present Maria Irene Fornes' The Danube at The Viaduct (3111 North Western), April 29-May 22.
The Danube, set in Budapest just before World War II, was the result of the playwright stumbling across an old set of Hungarian-English language lessons in a thrift shop. Fornes uses the language lessons as a jumping off place to explore the fragility of a world that could be destroyed by nuclear weaponry at any minute.
In Danube, an American businessman and a Budapestian woman fall in love, only to be poisoned by their environmental surroundings. The play's striking final image features the two lovers -- bodies coated in spots, clothes layered in soot, adorned with goggles -- waiting as an unnamed disaster nears.
Fornes will be the featured playwright for New York's Signature Theatre Company 1999-2000 season. No word yet on what plays will be featured in the season, though the premiering of a new work each year has become something of a tradition at the theatre.
Fornes is the more experimental dramatist, having worked Off-Broadway and Off-Off-Broadway for 30 years. Her latest play, The Summer in Gossenssass, looked at the influence of Hedda Gabler on the women of its generation. Other Fornes plays include Mud, Fefu and Her Friends, Abingdon Square, Terra Incognita and The Conduct of Life. The Hypocrites' Danube production is directed by Elizabeth Lexa and has a cast including Christopher Cintron, Mierka Girten, Jennifer Joplin, and William Tellman.
For tickets ($10, $5 if your poor) or more information, call (312) 409- 5578.
-- By Sean McGrath