The Shawl, which opened to critical and popular acclaim, is about a smalltime mystic out to bilk a bereaved woman out of her inheritance. In his review of the New Theatre Company’s presentation of The Shawl in Chicago, Richard Christiansen called the play a beautifully crafted piece of work, with a sharp, hurting edge. . . . His [Mamet’s] spinning of the yarn . . . is ingenious, and his control of the sounds and rhythms of dialogue has never been more awesome. . . . An exquisitely tooled chamber drama.”In Prairie du Chien a railroad car speeding through the Wisconsin night is the setting for a violent story of obsessive jealousy, murder, and suicide punctuated by the camaraderie of a friendly card game exploding into a moment of menace.