Audience members are asked to supply the key elements of the plot in full view of one another–you yourself might even have volunteered an acceptable suggestion at some time–so there’s no doubt that the Free Associates’ annual Christmas parody is spontaneous and made from scratch. And that’s not easy with Tennessee Williams’s southern-gothic classics, which involve repressed sexual desires, destructive emotional dynamics, and domestic crimes shrouded in secrecy. But on the night I attended, some unlikely suggestions yielded romantic fantasies involving elves and an obsessive longing for a holiday in Las Vegas (“that new vacation town”–it was 1956, after all). This smart, well-read ensemble improvises such tightly constructed narratives and eloquently literate dialogue and delivers them with such passionate conviction and psychological consistency, we might almost think we were sitting in a theater a few blocks south on Halsted watching Steppenwolf’s The Glass Menagerie. Ivanhoe Theater, 750 W. Wellington, 773-975-7171. Through January 9: Thursdays-Saturdays, 8:15 PM; Thursday, December 31, 10:30 PM only; no shows Thursday, December 24 and January 7, or Friday, December 25. $12-$14; $18 for the show on Thursday, December 31 (includes cocktail).

–Mary Shen Barnidge

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): uncredited photo.