Considering its age and overt educational and patriotic aims, Esther Forbes’s 1943 young-adult novel, about an apprentice silversmith who becomes swept up in the American Revolution, is remarkably subtle and effective. Adapter John Hildreth and director Katie McLean have improved on it, trimming the story to fit within two hours onstage without sacrificing either the carefully constructed plot or Forbes’s gift for making even the most familiar historical figures–John Hancock, Sam Adams–quirky and memorable. Most impressive, however, is the way Hildreth, McLean, and the able, energetic ensemble bring out both facets of an expert literary adaptation: the emotional involvement of good drama and the sweet feeling of having a story read to you. Through 4/9: Fri 7:30 PM, Sat 4 and 8 PM, Sun 5:30 PM, Lifeline Theatre, 6912 N. Glenwood, 773-761-4477, $14-$26.