Conventional wisdom says that there are no second acts in American lives–which makes Edward Albee’s Three Tall Women all the more remarkable. After a dry spell of nearly two decades, during which play after play of his fizzled, the playwright everyone had written off wrote a play with much of the power and insight of his groundbreaking early work; it even won him a Pulitzer. The rebellious rage of Zoo Story and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? has cooled in Three Tall Women into something far more devastating: a clear-eyed, sharp-tongued portrait of a tough old bird at three key stages in her life–her frisky 20s, her bitter middle years, and her angry seniority. No youngster flush with the success of his first hit could have written this philosophically complex, emotionally resonant work, which faces head-on so many unpleasant truths about aging and death. And only a writer in the second act of his life could have revealed the transcendent middle ground between going gently into that good night and raging against the dying of the light. Apollo Theater Center, 2540 N. Lincoln, 935-6100. Through July 2: Tuesdays-Fridays, 8 PM; Saturdays, 5 and 9 PM; Sundays, 3 and 7 PM. $32.50-$39.50.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Photo/Carol Rosegg.