Ibsen play deals with water issues

Concern about water is more than just a contemporary issue: in 1882 Henrik Ibsen wrote An Enemy of the People, in which a small town struggles to confront its water quality problem.  Chicago’s Theater Wit is currently presenting Arthur Miller’s 1950 adaptation of the play, whose protagonist is a doctor who discovers that the water in his town’s popular baths is being dangerously polluted by a nearby industry.  The doctor’s pleas to close the baths are rejected by the majority of citizens, led by his brother, the mayor.

“Its questions of tone in politics resonate with the heightened tone of American politics in the last three years,” said the play’s director, Jason Fliess.  ”The dilemma of solving an environmental problem without causing a major economic problem has echoes in the question of oil dependence and global warming.  So many individual lines and situations and conflicts in the play echo social and political issues of today.”

Tickets are $22, and the show runs through April 3.  Shows are Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday afternoons at 2:30 p.m.  The theater is at 1229 W. Belmont Ave. in Chicago.

If you can’t make the play, there are also several screen adaptations, including a little-known 1978 film version starring Steve McQueen.

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