Emily Schwartz’s new black comedy, produced by Scott Dray Productions and the Strange Tree Group, is set in early-20th-century America. A rambling novel of a play, it features garrulous, often charming characters, Dickensian plot twists, caustic comments on modern life, two ghosts, and a macabre story touching on pedophilia, incest, suicide, and murder. The most charming character of all is Alvin (played with quivering emotion by Matthew Holzfeind), who locked himself in the attic years earlier after witnessing a grisly incident. As long as the play focuses on rabbity Alvin and his nervous, whimsical habits, it’s enchantingly funny. But when it turns to other characters in the twisted story, it loses its way. Through 6/17: Thu-Sat 8 PM, Sun 5 PM, Athenaeum Theatre, second-floor studio theater, 2936 N. Southport, 312-902-1500, $12-$15, industry shows Thu and Sun.