Christopher Shinn’s Iraq War drama Dying City will replace Jason Loewith and Justin DM Palmer’s War With the Newts in the February slot at Evanston’s Next Theatre.

Next gave two reasons for postponing the premiere of the Loewith/Palmer play–an adaptation of the 1936 sci-fi satire by Czech writer Karel Capek, who also wrote R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots). The first, of course, was money: Capek’s tale of humans fighting a race of salamanders for world domination is “highly theatrical” and “incredibly ambitious,” says Loewith, Next’s outgoing artistic director, in a statement; with puppets by the marvelous Michael Montenegro, “it deserves more financial support than we can provide in this fiscal year.” The second reason was a trip Loewith, Montenegro, and dramaturg Celise Kalke took to Prague in October that convinced them to reshape the work, which was to have been broadly political, focusing it instead on Captain van Toch, who discovers the newts. The piece is expected to premiere, under another title, during the 2009-10 season. 

Selected by new artistic director Jason Southerland, Dying City is a grim–but, according to the New York Times, sly–thing about a war widow visited by the twin brother of her dead husband. It opens February 9.