Marsha Norman’s powerful Pulitzer-winning 1983 drama focuses on a final conversation between Thelma, an elderly small-town widow, and her middle-aged daughter Jessie, who’s decided to kill herself. As Thelma tries to convince Jessie that even an unfulfilled life is worth living, they find themselves speaking openly for the first time about their own experiences, including their unhappy marriages and their relationship with each other. Norman’s stark, candid, yet sometimes oddly humorous dialogue keeps the audience in suspense–will Jessie shoot herself?–and invites us to consider the ultimate choice every person makes: to be or not to be. Director John Hancock elicits intense performances from Elaine Rivkin and Dorothy Tristan as Jessie and Thelma. –Albert Williams (The show runs in repertory with Hancock Productions’ The Brother; see separate listing.) a Through 11/18: Fri 7:30 PM, Sun 7 PM, Theatre Building Chicago, 1225 W. Belmont, 773-327-5252, $30.