In Heritage, now receiving its world premiere, Chicago playwright Brett Neveu depicts two not-so-likable African-American men caught up in slavery’s legacy. One is a prisoner on work detail, restoring a Louisiana plantation home (Randy, a twentysomething car thief); the other is a middle-aged prison guard, Westfield, who likewise has no family, ambition, or passion. As work on the home continues, the brutal legacy of the plantation seems to possess both men and pit them against each other, especially since Westfield is Randy’s overseer while being overseen himself by an unconsciously racist white guard. Neveu hasn’t given his white characters any real stakes in the action, but the conflict between the two black men exposes a kind of inexorable, soul-corroding damage. Under Edward Sobel’s direction, Cedric Young as Westfield and Leonard House Jr. as Randy deliver meticulous, thoughtful performances, making their characters’ psychic wounds disquietingly real. Through 5/28: Thu-Fri 8 PM, Sat 5 and 8:30 PM, Sun 3 PM, American Theater Company, 1909 W. Byron, 773-929-1031, $25-$30.

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