I am back. Finally. It has been a beatch of a summer between 15 hour workdays for weeks on end, lingering physical wear and tear, and a distressing week-long business trip into the dark unknown that is central Pennsylvania where gay Asian men from Chicago are about as common as two-headed dogs with wings and pig hooves. Jeah (in the words of that adorable boy Ryan Lochte), it’s been rough. Fortunately, theater in Chicago during the dog days of August is often quiet, so I didn’t feel too guilty, hmmm, sleeping instead of writing a blog post. But the fall theater season is creeping up on us, and I was able to catch a couple of shows that opened this weekend. Interestingly enough, both are quite distinctively-written and staged, and pretty gutsy: Sideshow Theatre Company is mounting the US premiere of German playwright Roland Schimmelpfennig’s Idomeneus, an intriguing and quite political take on the Greek myth of the Cretan king’s return to his country, while Vitalist Theatre is presenting the Midwest premiere of British writer Mark Ravenhill’s pool (no water), about envy and loyalty among a group of artist-friends, maddeningly yet at times hypnotically staged. Both are risky, adventurous, demanding productions, so I was pretty thrilled to see the packed houses at the performances I attended. Chicago audiences are definitely not pushovers!