In most productions of Edward Albee's infamous 1962 drama of marital strife in a college town, Martha comes off as an inveterate game player. She's usually a natural-born boxer who, this booze-soaked night, heads once again into the ring and fails only to anticipate the scale of the impending mutual destruction. But in Pam MacKinnon's fascinating new production for the Steppenwolf Theatre Company, that's not the way it plays out. Amy Morton's Martha is far more naturalistic and vulnerable than usual. And in a truly formidable central performance, Tracy Letts takes Albee's self-loathing George, a man neutered by the burden of being married to the daughter of the president of the college at which he teaches, and turns him into a time bomb.
Through Feb. 13 by Steppenwolf Theatre Company, 1650 N. Halsted St.; $20-$73 at 312-335-1650 and steppenwolf.org