Pat Flaherty and David Wooten in The Clouds Genesius Guild's season-ender opens with a visual gag so wonderfully surprising that I wouldn't dream of describing it, and closes with a slapstick chase so wonderfully goofy that I couldn't describe it if I wanted to.

Andrea Braddy (masked) and ensemble members in Electra As the organization's annual Greek dramas always do, Genesius Guild's presentation of Electra begins with a processional. During this preamble, the cast members, accompanied by a majestic anthem, slowly make their way across the Lincoln Park stage, and those who'll be wearing the traditional headpieces of the period carry them at waist level, giving us an early peek at Ellen Dixon's costumes, Earl Strupp's masks, and, for the last time before the curtain call, the performers' faces. (Only the play's choral figures remain unmasked throughout the production.) It's a lovely touch, as reassuringly familiar as Genesius Guild's nightly T-shirt giveaway and the shrieking from the children playing on the neighboring swing sets.

Boib Hanske, Patti Flaherty, and James J. Loula in Medea Euripides' Medea, the title character of the Greek drama currently being produced in Rock Island's Lincoln Park, is a vengeful sorceress who - after discovering the unfaithfulness of her lover, Jason - kills Jason's wife, the king of Corinth, and, in her most monstrous act, her two young sons. And while I'm not sure what it says about me, I may have had more sheer fun at this Genesius Guild endeavor than at any other I've seen over the past two years. With superior direction by Peggy Hanske, this Medea is a vibrantly dramatic, unexpectedly funny, and completely accessible version of the classic tale, and it's the most consistently well-acted Genesius Guild production I've yet seen.

Greek drama is designed to make audiences think and feel, and while I'm not sure I did much of either at the Saturday-night performances in Rock Island's Lincoln Park, I sure did grin a lot.

Chris Hicks, Bryan Woods, and Rae Mary Regardless of style or genre, entertaining theatre has a way of putting audiences in great moods - I've personally smiled through well-staged productions of such varied, inherently tragic shows as Death of a Salesman and A Streetcar Named Desire and Hedda Gabler. And despite their seriousness, Genesius Guild's Seven Against Thebes and Antigone were a terrific time; the shows may not have had the knockabout power you hope for from Greek drama, but they certainly were enjoyable.

Saturday's opening-night production of Aristophanes' The Knights, which closes Genesius Guild's summer season and runs through this weekend, began with a few words from Guild founder - and uncredited Knights scribe - Don Wooten, and it's hard to imagine the evening commencing on a more charming note.

In this weather, I pity the actors in Genesius Guild's production of Macbeth. In addition to the fact they're on stage wearing three layers of clothing and toting swords, shows are performed at Rock Island's Lincoln Park outdoor theatre, which draws little breeze, lots of bugs, and, of course, heat. Though these aren't ideal conditions for actors, or for audience members, people willing to brave the heat for three hours and put on the bug spray will be more than pleased to see an incredibly well-done yet traditional version of one of Shakespeare's great tragedies.

It's not often that a main character dies more than five times during the course of a story. Or that a young man proposes to an 80-year-old woman. But Harold & Maude at Playcrafters Barn Theatre combines this unusual story with exceptional acting and achieves two hours of genuine laughter, and an appreciation for life and art. Colin Higgins' play is a lighthearted piece in which the lead characters come to terms with death and love.