Never the Sinner, Shining Through Productions, at Heartland Studio Theater. Long before John Logan became a big-time screenwriter (Gladiator, Vanilla Sky, Mission Impossible II), he meticulously reconstructed the “crime of the century” in an absorbing account of teenage thrill killers Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb. Rather than focus on how these self-appointed Nietzschean supermen botched the perfect crime, Logan concentrates on the sheer need that shackled the adoring, geeky Leopold to his smooth, sexually manipulative psychopath lover.

In Michael Ryczek’s well-tuned revival, the stone-cold killers recall Columbine as much as Hyde Park: it seems inevitable that they act out their fantasies of shocking a world that ignores their dangerousness. If Logan at times romanticizes their forbidden passion, it’s no greater a reach than defense counsel Clarence Darrow’s successful attempt to avoid the death penalty.

The actors suggest more than physical resemblances. Joseph McCauley’s half-formed Leopold seems a blank slate upon which Michael J. Freymann’s insufferably cocky Loeb can write what he wants. Only as they face separation do you sense how this preppie duo completed each other. The lawyers are equally well contrasted: as the implacable prosecutor, Keith Eric Davis exudes contempt for these privileged fiends while Carl Occhipinti’s Darrow doggedly pursues pure principle, attacking capital punishment more than he defends these lost boys.