Eroica Set in 1966 against the backdrop of the Vietnam War, David Alex’s new 75-minute one-act concerns a small-town high school basketball coach, Victor (Felipe Carrasco), who spouts patriotic platitudes to denounce antiwar protestors, though he himself has received a medical deferment from the draft. His sister Grace (Sarah Koerner), a liberal nun, is torn between her conscience and her love for her brother, while Victor’s wife Sally (Sarah Pavlak McGuire) worries about her brother, who’s MIA in Vietnam. Enter Charles (Garrett Young), one of Victor’s former players, whose slick but shifty charm barely masks a devious hidden agenda. As secrets begin to spill out, Alex and director Maggie Speer seem to be aiming for tragedy in the vein of Arthur Miller’s All My Sons. But stilted dialogue, heavy-handed moralizing, and melodramatic plotting blunt the story’s potential impact. —Albert Williams Through 8/7: Tue-Wed and Sun 7:30 PM, Sat 3 PM, Redtwist Theatre, 1044 W. Bryn Mawr, 773-728-7529, redtwist.org, $20.
Evil & Good Chicago Dance Crash has always occupied a distinctive space between flashy squad and classically trained ensemble. The dancers are versatile, agile, but they come at you with the attitude of a hip-hop crew. That attitude often leads to dark places. For Evil & Good, the company’s latest world premiere, the scenario is pretty much cut and dried from the start: nine scenes pit opposing forces against one another—like a series of old-fashioned dance-offs with an emphasis on bright spotlights, lithe solos, and a cast of nebulous characters. Much of it feels like entertainment for its own sake, akin to what you might see on an episode of So You Think You Can Dance. The shtick can get tedious, but there’s hardly a moment where you won’t appreciate the skill on display. Cat Deeley would approve. —Matt de la Peña Through 7/16: Fri-Sat 8 PM, Sun 3 PM, Vittum Theater, 1012 N. Noble, 773-342-4141, chicagodancecrash.com, $25.
Generation Gap Cortney is a 25-year-old South Carolina girl living in Chicago. She used to have a grown-up corporate job but quit in a huff when she felt disrespected as a woman. Since then she’s been stuck in slacker mode, drinking Buds with her buddy when she’s not delivering cookies for a bakery. Then mom shows up to set her right. Cortney experiences a series of feminist “flashbacks”: her grandma as a young spitfire who refuses to be wooed the old-fashioned way, her mom as a new employee getting hazed by male colleagues, and Cortney herself as a kid growing up in a sitcom household. The result, apparently, is an awakening. Well, that was easy. At under 50 minutes, Mary Beth Smith’s script makes a short play but a very long public service announcement, vaguely conceptualized and indifferently staged. —Tony Adler Through 8/2: Tue 8 PM, Annoyance Theatre, 851 W. Belmont, 773-697-9693, theannoyance.com, $8.
A Jewish Joke In this one-man show, a successful Jewish screenwriter named Bernie Lutz (Phil Johnson, who cowrote the play) confronts the anti-Communist fervor of 1950s Hollywood. As Bernie scrambles to avoid being blackballed, he lights up the stage with off-the-cuff yiddishisms and wild office shenanigans. The play’s humor comes in large part from Johnson’s physical presence—his duck-footed walk and drooped shoulders impart a man who is always performing, no matter the occasion. As he tells Jewish jokes from his “collection,” a box full of index cards, Johnson wonderfully channels a bygone era of Jewish funnymen, who never forgot to laugh, even during the terrors of the McCarthy witch hunt. —Max Maller Through 7/31: Wed 3 PM, Thu-Sat 7:30 PM, Sun 3 PM, Victory Gardens Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln, 773-871-3000, ajewishjoke.com, $32.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream Last summer Hayley Rice codirected a wonderful production of The Winter’s Tale with her mother, First Folio cofounder Alison C. Vesely. This year Rice directs alone, and though her stab at A Midsummer Night’s Dream indicates her potential, the uneven show suggests that she needs more work. Elements of this oft-produced summer comedy work like a dream—Elsa Hiltner’s costumes are a delight. But the show is marred by miscasting—Michael Joseph Mitchell, for example, is too weak to be either Theseus or Oberon, but might have made a killer Peter Quince—and too many over-the-top comic performances. And of the four lovers at the center of the play, only Sarah Wisterman, as the frequently put-upon Hermia, performs with the kind of passion that makes the Bard’s lines soar. —Jack Helbig Through 8/14: Wed-Sun 8:15 PM, First Folio Theatre, Mayslake Peabody Estate, 31st and Rt. 83, Oak Brook, firstfolio.org, $29-$39.
Spectacle Spectacular: A Fully Improvised Song and Dance Musical Improvisers the Glitter Island Gang have teamed up with the J. Lindsay Brown Dance Company for this intermittently enjoyable production, in which a brand-new musical is made up on the spot. On the night I saw the show, an audience suggestion of “gooey” inspired a shaggy tale about a town being taken over by sentient slime. As you’d expect from a large cast working without a script or choreography, things can get chaotic and, despite the efforts of directors Brown and Neil Figuracion, the two troupes don’t ever fully coalesce. The dancers in particular seem unsure of what to do with themselves. It falls to the improvisers to scrounge up some laughs and make sense of the plot, though they struggle to maintain focus. —Zac Thompson Through 7/31: Sun
8 PM, MCL Chicago, 3110 N. Sheffield, mclchicago.com, $20.