"The Beauty Queen of Leenane" ★★★

Martin McDonagh's "The Beauty Queen of Leenane" has been staged in Chicago several times. By now, most of us know that the embittered, middle-age Maureen isn't to be trusted with either her manipulative, life-consuming mother or a hot stove and boiling water. But that doesn't mean that director Steve Scott's new production lacks force. On the contrary; this is an intimate and quite powerful new staging of perhaps the best Irish play of the last 20 years. Shattered Globe almost went to pieces last fall; it will have to make more dictinctive programmatic and conceptual choices to claim its place in the crowded off-Loop scene. But this fine company — long synonymous with intensity, craft and truth — is most assuredly back. Through Feb. 27 at Athenaeum Theatre Studio 2, 2936 N. Southport Ave.; $25-$32 at 800-982-2787 or shatteredglobe.org - CHRIS JONES
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