The Eccentricities of a Nightingale

Since forming in 1993, the Eclipse Theatre Company has become the sensible walking shoe of Chicago theater: smart, basic, and dependable. Dedicating each season to the works of a single playwright, the company members seem more interested in clear, straightforward renditions of their chosen texts than in attention-getting theatrical splash. Their stripped-down 1999 production of Tennessee Williams’s The Eccentricities of a Nightingale typified their workmanlike style. The play is Williams’s reworking of his 1947 classic Summer and Smoke, and it had its world premiere at the Goodman in 1967. It tells the story of Alma Winemiller, the skittish and sexually repressed daughter of a Mississippi Episcopal preacher, attempting to forge a romance with her next-door neighbor, the frustrated young doctor John Buchanan. Director Steve Scott brings a necessary lyrical sensibility to Williams’s iconic fable, separating him from all the directors in town who treat Williams like a kitchen-sink realist. As with most of Eclipse’s productions, you probably won’t leave thrilled, but you will have seen a careful, clearheaded, well-acted production of a great play. Sometimes that’s more memorable than all the splash in the world. Theater on the Lake, Fullerton and Lake Shore Dr., 312-742-7994. Opens Wednesday, July 19, 8 PM. Through July 23: Thursday-Saturday, 8 PM; Sunday, 4 PM. $10. –Justin Hayford

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): theater still by Katie Vandehey.