Ray Bradbury’s 1953 novel, about a dystopic future in which books are outlawed and firemen employed full-time as book burners, offers a compelling critique of TV culture and our society’s ongoing discomfort with critical thinking. But it translates well to the stage because Bradbury knows how to tell a great story and create complex characters: a fireman who comes to doubt his way of life, the seductive young woman who goads him into reflection, an aggressive, manipulative fire chief who secretly loves books. Directing Bradbury’s own adaptation, Dado fills this Steppenwolf Arts Exchange production with actors capable of plumbing the tale’s emotions. John G. Connolly plays Montag, Bradbury’s conflicted hero, not merely as a man unhappy with his job but as a man engulfed by a major identity crisis. Dado even gives the sentimental stereotype of Clarisse–little more than a sweet young muse in the book–the illusion of depth by casting the strong, unpredictable actress Corryn Cummins. She and Connolly have such chemistry onstage that the tone of their voices alone speaks volumes about their unexpressed longings. Created primarily as a family-oriented outreach show, Dado’s staging is one of those rare pieces of educational theater that’s as entertaining as it is enlightening. Steppenwolf Theatre Company, 1650 N. Halsted, 312-335-1650. Through October 26: Saturdays, 11 AM. $10.

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