If you show a gun in the first act, it must go off by the last, to paraphrase Chekhov. A young Eugene O'Neill plays with this conceit by showing you the gun in the prologue, which is also the final scene of his rarely-produced comedy Now I Ask You. Lucy, the nice young girl with the gun, is a fickle dabbler in intellectualism. Betrothed to the equally nice young Tom Drayton, her current fixation on Nietzsche leads her to believe marriage is tantamount to slavery. Lucy's mother advises Tom to humor her daughter by dumping the marriage ceremony, but that's not enough. Lucy makes him sign a document that absolves her of having to bear children, and also allows her to have guilt-free affairs — this despite her discomfort with the idea of free love. When the married pair meet Leonora and Gabriel, an actual bohemian couple, a few months later, Lucy becomes almost as obsessed with seducing Gabriel as she is with playing Hedda Gabler toward Tom — and now you know why she's packing a pistol. Who gets ventilated and who gets to grow up and out of the "young, wild spirit of youth?" Find out when Muddy Waters Theatre presents Now I Ask You at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday (June 11 through 27) at the Kranzberg Arts Center (501 North Grand Boulevard; 314-799-8399 or www.muddywaterstheatre.com). Tickets are $20 to $25.
Fridays-Sundays. Starts: June 11. Continues through June 27, 2010