On his last visit to Chicago, in 2010, South Africa’s Omphile Molusi performed a powerful one-man show called Itsoseng, much of which dealt with political betrayal: how citizens of the title township helped overthrow apartheid only to find themselves suffering all over again under an incompetent and corrupt new order. But the piece was also a love story. Despite all the turmoil around him, the hero, Marwilla, had his heart set on winning a certain girl he grew up with.

Now Molusi is back in Cadre. Like Itsoseng, it’s his own creation, and like Itsoseng also, it’s got its Marwilla: Gregory, a poor black kid who pursues a tender, utterly quixotic romantic obsession amid the convulsions of South African history.

Yet where Itsoseng focused on the early 1990s, when Nelson Mandela had already come to power, Cadre goes back another 30 years, to the ’60s—a time of ruthless repression and violent resistance. For that reason, it’s a much, much, much darker piece of work. Cadre offers sweet moments and striking stagecraft, but it’s ultimately out to break your heart. And it can.

The show runs only through Saturday, 2/23: Wed-Fri 7:30 PM, Sat 2 and 7:30 PM, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Navy Pier, 800 E. Grand, 312-595-5600, $20.