Train of Thought: Premiere One-Acts by Chicago Playwrights, Stage Left Theatre. Neither of the works on this program is terribly optimistic, but Mia McCullough’s Suicide at least finds some humor in its dark subject. In her entertaining play, a crooked politician turns to a delusional homeless woman and “crazy Jesus prophet guy” for help during a late-night el ride. Harry Eddleman plays the tightly wound Suit, who longs to distinguish himself from his dishonest brethren with a suicide that has “intrigue and mystery.” The tremors and tics Eddleman uses to convey his character’s nervousness are overdone, but his rapport with the charismatic Ty Perry and likable Amy Dunlap is real. Directed by Jessi D. Hill, this black comedy easily outshines the other play on the bill.

Tens and Twenties suffers from a vague script and indecipherable acting by Ron Wells and Cat Dean (whom we keep expecting to be revealed as a robot). In Gregory Hardigan’s dystopic play, the central character has signed a ten-year contract to remain at his desk. Since he can’t leave his office, he’s given the services of an actress who helps him recall life before this damnable deal. Both characters are isolated, but whenever an attempt at connection is made they react with fear, anger, or some other raw emotion. In this absurd play, directed by John Sanders, it’s difficult to discern the truth–or even what these sad, pained characters are truly longing for.