05/14/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Playhouse Chicago: Two Families and the Homesteads That Bury Them

"Love Makes a Family" the old say-so goes, as does Inheritance, political strife, forbidden sexual longing and career failures. Two works not-so-decidedly different make their way to the Chicago stage, with both productions illustrating that a family is "extended" fare more than its members can ever grasp.

Ending its run this Sunday is playwright Regina Taylor's searing new drama Magnolia, housed at The Goodman. The story of "two" families eternally bound by blood and clay dirt, and like the flower that namesakes their familial estate, beautiful to gaze upon as it blooms in varying colors, but when the layers of secrets and lies held for generations are pulled back, there resides a stench that can be shaken once absorbed.

Read the full review of "Magnolia" here.

Pangs of the Messiah, scripted by Motti Lerner and presented at Silk Road Theatre, runs through May 10. In 2012, a devout and politically connected Jewish family finds the rug pulled from under when a permanent treaty is brokered by Israel with the backing of the U.S. and West Europe to remove all Jewish settlers from the West Bank. The familial seams come apart quickly when it becomes apparent that all is lost on the political struggle, and personal dreams and delusions are bulldozed along with physical homes.

Read the full review of "Pangs of the Messiah" here.