Union Station, ETA Creative Arts Foundation. Two of the most difficult scenes in drama to pull off convincingly are private confidences between young siblings and private affection between longtime spouses. The first are often trivialized by too much cloying cutesiness, the second by too much hormonal urgency.

The ETA regulars in Marta J. Effinger’s Union Station, under the direction of Donn Carl Harper (soon to join the colony of Chicago emigres in Los Angeles), easily pull off both, their obvious comfort with one another making for immediately recognizable and wholly believable characters. In this story of two project families striving for economic independence, Al Boswell, playing an avuncular elder, gives a hallelujah chorus of a performance. Greta Oglesby and Senuwell Smith, as a pair of weary parents, give quietly intelligent performances, and Dinai Emerald Cooksey, as a sexually curious little sister, and Demetrius Thornton, as her protective older brother, give remarkably sophisticated ones.

Some credit for the elegance of Effinger’s script–characters frequently break off speeches to leave their inner thoughts unspoken, a rare event in most new plays–might go to dramaturg Dwight Wilkens. But whatever each individual’s contribution, the results are ensemble work that transcends the conventional story.

–Mary Shen Barnidge