The setting might be contemporary America, but the school known as “System 16” is a nightmare straight out of Victorian literature. Part lunatic asylum and part prison, it’s populated by misfit students and derelict teachers. In this new play, Jeremy Menekseoglu depicts life within these walls in his characteristic Dickensian fashion. (Even more horrifying than his grisly imagery is his assertion in a program note that System 16 has a real-life counterpart.) But despite any temptations to overact, the Dream Theatre Company ensemble–led by Jennifer Shin and Colby Sellers as the crusaders attempting to do good–deliver clean, straightforward, unaffected performances. Through 7/30: Fri-Sat 8 PM, Sun 7 PM. Side Studio, 1520 W. Jarvis, 773-474-9070. $10-$15.