'The Outgoing Tide' ★★★½

Gunner, the memory-challenged character in Bruce Graham¿s moving new play, is losing his grip on life. And although it must be tempting to play this elderly man as a timid, nervous fellow, there's no hint of that in John Mahoney. His performance in director BJ Jones' superb world-premiere production is the best work I¿ve seen him do on stage. "The Outgoing Tide" is set on the shore of Chesapeake Bay and is an exploration of how a man such as Gunner -- forceful, successful -- can live with a seriously diminished mental capacity, and whether he is within his rights to not want to live with it at all. Mahoney is joined here by Rondi Reed and Thomas J. Cox, offering a trio of towering performances made all the more intense by the sense that any tower can, eventually, be toppled. -CHRIS JONES Through June 19 at Northlight Theatre, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie; $40-$50 at 847-673-6300 or
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