PORTLAND — Mad Horse Theatre’s Dark Night Series has returned for its second season with a presentation of “The Cryptogram,” by David Mamet. Performances began Oct. 12 and continue on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights through Oct. 21.

The time is 1959. John, age 10, is having trouble sleeping. He is going camping with his dad the next day, and the excitement is too much for him. He talks about his trip with his mom and a family friend as they await his dad’s return.

Thus begins one of Mamet’s most personal plays, a tense family tragedy, delivered with the playwright’s masterful and menacing command of language. Mamet transports the viewer back to a time in childhood when the seemingly safe world is revealed as both puzzling and dangerous.

A Boston Herald reviewer described the play as “heart-stopping — where other dramatists are writing melodrama about the dysfunctional family, Mamet has written high tragedy.”

Showtime is 7:30 p.m. Admission is free, with donations gladly accepted. Reservations are recommended.

Performances are at the Studio Theater at Portland Stage Company, 25A Forest Ave. For more information, call 730-2389 or visit www.madhorse.com.

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