The restaurant-set play is the contemporary story of a cantankerous, elderly "every mom" and her two middle-aged children, who meet for their usual lunch date.
Victory Gardens associate artistic director Sandy Shinner directs a cast that includes Chicago favorite Mary Ann Thebus as Peggy; with Peter Burns and Meg Thalken as Peggy's adult children, Warren and Ellen; and Jennifer Avery as their friendly waitress, Barb.
"Humor and heartbreak" punctuate the play, according to VGT, "set in a typical family restaurant in an unnamed Chicago suburb." Peggy's usual lunch date (and usual lunch drink) with her grown children Ellen and Warren "turns from routine conversation to life-changing revelation."
Johnson's earlier plays include Before My Eyes and The End of the Tour (both at Victory Gardens and both Jeff Award-nominated for Best New Play), as well as A Fall to Earth, A Blameless Life and Tranquility Woods (at Steppenwolf).
Johnson formally joined Victory Gardens Playwrights Ensemble earlier this season, as did Pulitzer Prize winner Nilo Cruz. Four Places, a finalist in the National Arts Club's Best New Play of 2006, is his third Victory Gardens world premiere. Johnson's relationship with Steppenwolf Theatre began in 2004 with the Jeff Award-winning The Fall to Earth, which was subsequently published by Broadway Play Publishing in fall 2006. Johnson won Illinois Arts Council grants for Blind Hearts, The Fall to Earth and A Blue Moon, which was first produced at Chicago Dramatists and also nominated for Best New Play by the Jeff Committee in 2002.
He got his start as a writer at Chicago's critically acclaimed Econo-Art Theatre, which produced such plays as Beautiful Dreamer and Blind Hearts.
Designers are Jack Magaw (set), Carol J. Blanchard (costumes), Avraham Mor (lights) and Andre Pluess (sound). Tina M. Jach is production stage manager.
Following previews from March 28, Four Places opens April 7 at the Victory Gardens Biograph Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Avenue, Chicago.
For tickets and information, call the Victory Gardens box office, (773) 871-3000, or visit www.VictoryGardens.org.
Victory Gardens Theatre is the recipient of the Tony Award for Regional Theatre.