Of all the searing portraits of Hollywood, David Rabe’s Hurlyburly must be the nastiest, most brutish, and longest. Even in Michael Patrick Thornton’s well-paced production, it’s more than three hours with two intermissions. Set in 1980 and ’81 and first performed at the Goodman in a pre-Broadway engagement in 1984, Hurlyburly concerns a pair of jaded drug- and alcohol-abusing casting agents and the lowlifes–failed actors, struggling writers, oversexed runaways–who slither through their lives. Such full-throttle decadence can be catnip to actors who confuse screaming with creating a character. But wise performers like the two at the center of this superb production, Brendan Donaldson and Paul D’Addario, know that it’s more moving to underplay their roles–a choice that humanizes them and gives the rest of the cast a chance to explore the rich inner lives of their own characters. Through 2/18: Thu-Fri 7:30 PM, Sat 2 and 7:30 PM, Gift Theatre Company, 4802 N. Milwaukee, 773-283-7071, $15-$25.