Griffin Theatre Company director Jonathan Berry understands perfectly the significance of J.B. Priestley’s title: time is as much a character in this 1938 play as any member of the Conway family. What could have been a simple family melodrama–a mother and six children celebrate the end of World War I, then reassemble 20 years later–instead becomes a meditation on the curdling of youthful optimism and promise into sour middle age. With a light touch, Priestley and Berry use foreshadowing to suggest that the characters’ beginnings both conceal and reveal their ends: we’re saddened but not surprised by what’s become of the Conways on the eve of the next war. Despite the upper-class English milieu, there are echoes of Eugene O’Neill, especially the thought that there’s no present or future, just the past repeating continually. Priestley makes wonderful use of Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience, and the actors entrusted with these complex poetic texts deliver them with exceptional skill and conviction. In particular Adam S. Moore stands out as Alan, the ne’er-do-well brother whose apparent unimportance masks a deep, and deeply hopeful, understanding of how life can fracture in the face of challenges and yet remain whole. Through 10/30: Thu-Sat 8 PM, Sun 2 PM. Theatre Building Chicago, 1225 W. Belmont, 773-327-5252. $23.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Michael Brosilow.