Generally speaking, death seldom makes for hotly anticipated homecomings. Nevertheless, enthusiasm is a perfectly suitable reaction to the Illusion Theater's revival of playwright Jeffrey Hatcher's Three Viewings. First developed in 1992 as part of the Fresh Ink workshop program, the production received its regional premiere on the Illusion stage two years later. Since that time the work has been performed around the world, accumulating rave reviews along the way. With its return to the Illusion Theater, audiences have the rare opportunity to see Hatcher's work in its original home. Revolving around one quirky weekend in a Midwestern funeral parlor, Three Viewings offers a trio of thoroughly eccentric characters spinning bizarre but heartfelt monologues. Though the three parts (including a romantically desperate undertaker, the widow of a shady contractor, and a thief who specializes in stealing jewelry and trinkets off bodies in open casket viewings) seem to be strangers, each monologue yields odd and unexpected connections. The dark comedy offers a standout cast of local performers, including James Cada, Carolyn Pool, and Barbara Kingsley. The last of the three is particularly connected to the material, having participated in the original Fresh Ink Workshop nearly 20 years ago. Though set in a funeral home, Three Viewings promises a homecoming that is anything but deathly.
Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m.; Wednesdays, 10 a.m. Starts: April 15. Continues through May 14, 2011