Last summer Defiant Theatre company members Joe Foust and Richard Ragsdale caught lightning in a bottle with their wacky, whip-smart parody of the action genre’s most egregious cliches, performed to enthusiastic audiences at the American Theater Company and Theater on the Lake. Yet Foust and Ragsdale went back and revised their script in an effort to produce a leaner, meaner production this summer; new scenes and dialogue have improved the continuity. And the cast–many of whom are holdovers from the original–have really grown into their roles. Nor has time off hampered the show: the play’s endless stunts–ranging from simple fisticuffs to a French Connection-style car chase that culminates in a rooftop duel with working chain saws–are just as brilliantly executed and breathtaking as they were before. Best of all, Foust and Ragsdale have left things wide open for a sequel, so it’s only a matter of time before their intrepid heroes return for a whole new set of adventures. American Theater Company, 3855 N. Lincoln (enter at 1909 W. Byron), 312-409-0585. Through July 31: Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 PM; Sundays, 7 PM; no show Sunday, June 27 or July 4. $10-$15.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Geoffrey Fingerhut.