By Dan Zeff
Chicago – China Mieville’s 2009 novel “The City & the City” won several major science fiction and fantasy awards, so it must be a worthwhile read. But as a subject for stage adaptation it presents some heavy challenges, like trying to capture the fearsomely complicated and ambiguous plot.
The Lifeline Theatre is presenting the world premiere of the novel in Christopher Walsh’s adaptation. The production is impressive but the convoluted narrative frequently lost me and I left the theater unsure about what had transpired for more than two hours.
“The City & the City” is a police procedural mystery with strong whiffs of George Orwell and Franz Kafka. The action begins realistically enough with a police inspector named Tyador Borlu investigating the savage murder of a visiting American student named Mahalia Geary. And that’s just about the only firm ground the narrative places under the viewer’s feet.
PHOTO BY SUZANNE PLUNKETT
Borlu, the play’s narrator, operates in an eastern European city-state called Beszel, which co-exists with a city called Ul Qoma. The two cities occupy much of the same geography, but they are considered separate cultures by their respective citizens. There is also a rumor, or legend, of a third city, named Orciny, that exists in areas between Beszel and Ul Qoma. Residents of Beszel and Ul Qoma are never allowed to recognize anything from the other city. Violation of this strict law can bring the offender before a mysterious organization called Breach, and that is bad news for the offender. Breach is not only the name of the secret organization, it’s the name of the offense the citizen may have committed. The double usage of the word doesn’t help clarify the story.
Borlu is our guide throughout the play, feeding the audience bits of information about the two cities plus Breach and Orciny. But we are never told how this bizarre twin-cities arrangement developed historically. It is what it is.
PHOTO BY SUZANNE PLUNKETT
The murder investigation is rapidly displaced by other plot twists. There are indications of a sinister conspiracy, though by whom and against whom is elusive. There is an archaeological dig that plays a central role in the unfolding narrative. Additional characters die violently and the story ends on what presumably is an ironic note, but by that time the plot had left me behind.
The story includes more than 20 characters played by the 10-member Lifeline ensemble. The characters have names like Shukman, Syedr, Naustin, Buric, Jaris, Yorjavic, Samun, Drodin, Aikam, and Dhatt and they are very difficult to keep straight. The core figure remains Borlu, who is on stage the entire play. The inspector is an honest man committed to solving the student’s death, though his investigation encroaches on sensitive areas.
The narrative acquires more twists and turns as the evening progresses. Near the end, there is a violent uprising between the various political factions in Beszel and Ul Qoma. Breach, the organization, finally reveals itself. The plot ends with Borlu apparently imprisoned in a no man’s land between the twin cities, though I may have gotten that wrong. By the final blackout I was hanging on for dear life trying to keep track of the happenings on stage.
The play takes place on a minimalist set designed by Joe Schermoly that has four identical doors at the rear of the stage for the multiple entrances and exists the action demands. There is also a row of windows above the stage, with characters peeping out to intensify the feeling of paranoia. Izumi Inaba’s costume designs place the action in a present-day environment. The contemporary realism blends with the disturbing and menacing events to create an unsettling aura that permeates the whole enterprise.
Steve Schine plays the inspector, who doggedly pursues his case down increasingly labyrinthine pathways. Chris Hainsworth plays Borlu’s police counterpart in Ul Qoma with a droll and astringent air that produces some very welcome laughs amid all the dark storyline convolutions. Marsha Harmon plays Borlu’s female assistant, a young woman who expresses herself in a near constant stream of obscenities. Don Bender powerfully takes over the play in its final scene as the leader of Breach. All the performers, under Dorothy Milne’s directing, seem to have a complete grasp of their characters and their motivations. The actors know what’s going on, whatever perplexities I may have.
To complete the design record, Brandon Wardell designed the lighting and Christopher Kriz the sound. The entire design team succeeded in creating a visual and aural backdrop of intimidation and grim secrets that permeates the storyline.
China Mieville has established himself as a major voice in the New Weird genre, which is a mix of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. There isn’t any horror in “The City & the City” and not much science fiction, but there is fantasy aplenty. The portraits of the twin police states suggest Mieville may have a satirical agenda, but if so, I didn’t pick up on it. Audiences can treat his story as an imaginative and dense, not to mention talky, mystery tale with lots of side trips into the ambiguous and the sinister.
“The City & the City” runs through April 7 at the Lifeline Theatre, 6912 North Glenwood Avenue. Performances are Thursday and Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 4 and 8 p.m., and Sunday at 4 p.m. Tickets are $40. Call 773 761 4477 or visit www.lifelinetheatre.com.
The show gets a rating of three stars. February 2013
Contact Dan at ZeffDaniel@yahoo.com.
by Dan Zeff
Chicago – All of Jane Austen’s novels are built on the same premise. A woman meets and marries an eligible man after a series of usually comic difficulties. But Austen extracts a remarkable amount of drama, comedy, and human interest from her domestic tales through her witty and irony prose and her shrewd but forgiving eye for human weakness.
Pride and Prejudice is Austen’s best-known novel and its rich tapestry of characters and her urbane dialogue have made it a natural for the stage, television, and motion pictures. The Lifeline Theatre has created a niche for itself dramatizing literary classics and the company has come up with a gem, combining Christina Calvit’s stylish adaptation with scintillating performances by a large cast to capture the culture of genteel English provincial life in the early nineteenth century.
Photography by Suzanne Plunkett
Pride and Prejudice takes us into the home of the Bennet family, Mr. and Mrs. Bennet and their five unmarried daughters living in Meryton in the county of Hertfordshire. The local society resembles a giant marriage market, with the eligibility of single men pegged to their annual income (5,000 pounds a year is desirable and 10,000 pounds a year makes the bachelor the lodestar of every ambitious mother and simpering daughter in the county).
Elizabeth Bennet is the high spirited and independent daughter in the Bennet clan. Opposite her is Mr. Darcy, one of the 10,000 pounds a year bachelors, a haughty young man who does not suffer fools gladly and sees fools all around him in Hertfordshire, especially female fools. Elizabeth and Darcy are clearly destined to be united,but in Austenian fashion they at first antagonize each other, their conflicts intensified by a series of misunderstandings. By the end of the story, Darcy relinquishes his stiff-necked pride and Elizabeth yields her prejudice against him and they unite in which should be an exceptionally lively and affectionate marriage.
The Elizabeth-Darcy bumpy romance holds the center stage, but there are numerous subplots, two involving Elizabeth’s sisters Jane and Lydia plus an antagonism between Darcy and an army officer named Wickham. The novel is awash in colorful characters, the most important deliciously preserved in the Calvit adaptation. Other than the Bennet family and Darcy, the most prominent figures include the fatuous clergyman Mr. Collins, the imperious dowager Lady Catherine de Bourgh, Darcy’s friend Mr. Bingley, and Bingley’s sister Caroline. Then there are busybody gossiping neighbors, assorted servants, and visitors who mingle with the locals, all contributing to the social rivalries and class differences that animated the society of that day.
The Lifeline has assembled a bull’s-eye cast of 14, many playing multiple roles to create the population of an entire town and its environs, all dressed in the formal styles of the early nineteenth century. Laura McClain is the first among equals as Elizabeth, a young woman too intelligent and willful to fall into the vale of giggling, husband seeking females around her, though Elizabeth would happily accept a mate, if he were a match for her spirited personality.
Cameron Feagin deserves special commendation for bringing off the character of Mrs. Bennet so credibly. The role is filled with acting traps to milk the lady for easy laughs as the fluttering woman goes about matchmaking for her girls. Fagin’s Mrs. Bennet does her share of dithering and comic self-dramatizing, but she remains a person and not a platform for acting tics.
Dennis Grimes is very good as the standoffish Darcy, though his shift from haughtiness to humble supplicator for Elizaqbeth’s hand may be a little abrupt. Don Bender is outstanding as the droll and long suffering Mr. Bennet, a man sentenced to be the only male in an otherwise all female household, with the small tensions and emotional highs and lows that carries. Phil Timberlake is perfect as the fatuous Mr. Collins, and Kelsey Jorissen is an eye catching Caroline Bingley, who looks with disdain at the provincial bumpkins she must endure accompanying her brother to Hertfordshire.
In an ensemble this good, everyone deserves recognition: William Bullion, Amanda Drinkall (excellent as the love struck Jane Bennet), James Gasber (Mr. Wickham), Micah Kronlokken (Mr. Bingley), Chelsea Paice, Kirsty Rivett (excellent as the flirty and headstrong Lydia Bennet), Jan Sodaro (first rate as the Olympian Lady Catherine de Bourgh), and Cassidy Shea Stirtz.
The success of the production owes much to the deft directing of Elise Kauzlaric, who orchestrates the action with pace and supplies countless wry touches to flesh out the characters and incidents in the play. Melania Lancy has designed a bi-level set that allows the characters to move fluidly from scene to scene with vertical as well as horizontal freedom.
Special props go to Bill Morey for his huge wardrobe of authentic looking period costumes and Natalie Turner-Jones, who is credited as movement director. I presume she is responsible for choreographing the social dances that add much charm and humor to the staging. Sarah Hughey designed the lighting and Christopher Kriz the sound (and mood-setting original period music).
The real hero of the evening is Jane Austen, with her mastery of sophisticated language, her sure eye for human weakness, and her delightful portrayals of provincial everyday life. The triumph of the Lifeline production is its fidelity to Austen’s original masterpiece.
Pride and Prejudice runs through June 10 at the Lifeline Theatre, 6912 North Glenwood Avenue. Performances are Thursday and Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 4 and 8 p.m., and Sunday at 4 p.m. Tickets are $32 and $35. Call 773 761 4477 or visit www.lifelinetheatre.com.
The show gets a rating of four stars. May 2012
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At the Lifeline Theatre
by Dan Zeff
Chicago – Elise Blackwell’s slender 2003 novel “Hunger” tells the harrowing story of a group of Russian scientists trying to survive the siege of Leningrad during World War II. Blackwell’s novel has been adapted into a drama receiving its world premiere at the Lifeline Theatre. The play is grim, bleak, and at 2½ hours, 30 minutes too long. The acting is outstanding but the adaptation ultimately becomes a very long sit for the audience.
Most of the action is confined in a laboratory in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), where a group of dedicated food scientists is researching improved agricultural methods that will allow farmers to grow crops abundantly and efficiently enough to feed the sprawling Russian population. The scientists face daunting obstacles. The German armies are approaching the city, ultimately laying siege to Leningrad for almost three years and inflicted catastrophic suffering on the people—death by starvation, cold, and disease. The lab’s work is complicated by interference from the brutal Russian government bureaucracy.
The scientists assume the role of caretakers to protect collections of precious, rare seeds that could lay the foundation for Russia’s agricultural salvation. Gradually, the initial group of seven scientists withers away through illness, the violence of the war, and arrests by the dreaded Russian KGB. At the end of the play, only two scientists remain, suffering from survivor’s guilt because they endured while so many colleagues fell, and facing the subtle accusations of Russians who wonder what the survivors did to make it through to the end of the war.
Chris Hainsworth’s adaptation tries to explore the moral dilemmas of the scientists. Those valuable seeds may feed future Russian generations but they can also sustain life for the starving scientists. Which comes first, the obligations to posterity or the obligation to stay alive in the present? It’s a valid and unsettling question that the play dilutes by meandering into distracting side matters, like when the narrative suddenly goes into flashbacks that are confusing and extraneous. The seven scientists are an admirable lot, but we never get to know them as individuals and thus their fates don’t inspire as much sympathy and emotion on the personal level as they deserve.
The most dramatically viable character in “Hunger” is Trofim Lysenko, a real-life biologist who led Russia down the wrong path in agriculture with his bogus theories and set Soviet science back a generation in the study of genetics. As persuasively played by Peter Greenberg, Lysenko is a smarmy, power hungry, lecherous villain and the play is at its most audience-involving when he is on stage. Otherwise the play drones along, dwindling to tiresome wordiness in its final scenes.
The restriction of the action to the science lab undercuts the impact of the horrors of the siege beyond the lab walls. The scientists are hungry but they are decently dressed and obviously have access to some food. The play does attempt to heighten the horrors of the siege by showing residents dragging the wrapped corpses of the dead through the frozen streets and even three women fatally attacking a man to represent how the ghastly living conditions had reduced the people to barbarism. But overall the misery of the siege is muted by the comparative safety of the lab, that is, until the feared knock on the door announces arrival of the KGB with orders to arrest a scientist on some trumped-up charge.
The character with the most stage time is Ilya, a scientist who never came into focus for me as a character. Ilya is an honorable man forced to do dishonorable things under the pressure of the inhuman conditions of the siege and Russian bureaucratic oppression. He is neither a hero nor one of the enemy but in spite of a fine performance by John Henry Roberts his moral presence isn’t sufficiently defined.
The entire ensemble, several playing multiple roles, is first rate, humanizing their characters when the script allows. Kendra Thulin is especially good as Ilya’s recklessly brave wife. Christopher Walsh is fine as the laboratory director who fails to recognize and protect his people from the German disaster approaching from the outside and his own brutal government from within. Dan Granata is outstanding as the scientist who starts out angry and bitter and ends up a docile, brainwashed victim of the war and Soviet brainwashing. Katie McLean Hainsworth does superior double duty, first as the most clear-sighted of the scientists and then as a Lysenko assistant with her eye always on the main chance. Jenifer Tyler is the spunky, cynical scientist ultimately broken by the brutality of he siege and bureaucratic hostility.
Robert Kauzlaric’s directing allows the narrative to proceed at a glacial pace. The scenic design by Jessica Kuehnau captures the dreary utilitarian nature of the lab with its many drawers that house the crucial seeds. Kevin Gawley is the lighting designer and Joanna Melville designed the costumes. Andrew Hansen contributed the sound design and original music.
Possibly the novel, which received rave reviews, does not lend itself to dramatization. Subtleties of personality may be easier to create on the printed page than on the stage. The procession of cruelties, miseries, and sufferings wears on a live audience, especially when there are an insufficient number of characters to stir the spectator dramatically and theatrically. Regrettably, in spite of the integrity of the project, the commitment of the performers, and the importance of the subject matter, I ended up bored.
“Hunger” runs through March 25 at the Lifeline Theatre, 6912 North Glenwood Avenue. Performances are Thursday and Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 4 and 8 p.m., and Sunday at 4 p.m. Tickets are $32 and $35. Call 773 761 4477 or visit www.lifelinetheater.com.
The show gets a rating of 2½ stars. February 2012
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At the Lifeline Theatre
By Dan Zeff
Chicago – “Watership Down” is a classic adventure novel about a group of rabbits desperately seeking a new home. It’s brilliant on the printed page and made a decent animated movie in 1978. But how does a theater put the rabbit saga on the live stage?
If the theater has the unlimited resources of a Disney Corporation, it could develop a show on the model of “The Lion King.” But if the theater has a limited budget and an even more limited playing space, then creativity, imagination, and enthusiasm have to carry the day, as it does with the Lifeline Theatre’s masterful stage adaptation of the Richard Adams novel.
wisely doesn’t put its cast in rabbit suits. The youthful ensemble wears mostly
the kind of grungy clothes that make up the wardrobe of the modern high school
and college student. The rabbit bit comes in the body language, the slight hip
hop gait, and the frequent forehead bumping that presumably is a rabbit’s way
of showing affection. A few menacing non-rabbit animal characters do appear
dressed as a cat and the like.
It may take the audience a few minutes to orient themselves to the presentation of the rabbits as human beings with rabbit-like qualities, which they really are in the novel. The illusion of rabbits in the fields and meadows is conveyed by the Lifeline crew of designers, which includes a scenic and projection designer (Wenhai Ma), a projectionist (Alan Donahue), a puppet, mask, and video designer (Joanna Iwanicka, a movement designer (Paul S. Holmquist), and violence designers (R&D Choreography).
The design team joins with the actors, under the masterful direction of Katie McLean Hainsworth, to portray a convincing outdoor world with the skillful use of a multi-level set with large holes for entrances and exits, along with a deft use of the main aisle.
With the visual elements established, the story takes over. At first the narrative moves a little slowly, but roughly the last 30 minutes are loaded with as much action, tension, and excitement as an old Saturday afternoon at the movies serial.
John Hildreth’s adaptation follows the
novel fairly closely. A young rabbit named Fiver (Scott Barsotti) has a
mystical power of prophecy and predicts his rabbit warren will become a place of
danger. He urges the rabbits to leave to find a new home and a small band set
out, under the leadership of Hazel (Paul Holmquist) and Fiver. The rest of the
evening is an account of the dangers the rabbits must conquer before they can
settle in a safe new home.
The final tribulation is a battle to the death between a vicious rabbit leader named General Woundwort and his minions and the rabbits led by Hazel and Fiver, with the intrepid assistance of Bigwig (Christopher Walsh), Blackberry (Chris Daley), and others. Hazel lives long enough to see his people happily settled.
At one level, “Watership Down” is a children’s story, though occasionally a very violent one. But it’s also an allegory about overcoming obstacles in the search for a better life, conquering fear, and defeating oppression. At times the story takes on the aura of an ancient Native American folk tale with its shamans and gods and voices out of the sky.
The narrative isn’t always easy to follow, especially early on, and patrons are advised to familiarize themselves the “Lapine glossary” in the playbill to understand references in the rabbit language that are essential to keeping track of the action. But by the end of the first act the viewer should be comfortable in the rabbit world and root for the animals in their heroic effort to establish themselves in a new existence, after outsmarting and outfighting predator animals (including human beings).
“Watership Down” may be the highest risk concept the Lifeline Theatre has ever attempted. Making a world populated by rabbits credible to the audience is an enormous achievement. Possibly other concepts might have worked, but I don’t see how the Lifeline concept could be improved upon.
Eight members of the ensemble double and triple in roles. Barsotti is terrific as the tormented seer. Jesse Manson is wonderful as a white bird who becomes an ally of the rabbits in their migration. Mandy Walsh delivers a beautiful and affecting performance as a rabbit doe abused by General Woundwort and his henchmen. Dave Skvarla is a magnificent villain as the general. Walsh (a Jim Belushi look alike) is great as the intrepid Bigwig.
But the entire ensemble throws itself into the story with a conviction that carries the viewer with them all the way to the slam-bang finale. They all deserve to be identified—Bryson Engelen, Matt Engle, Eduardo Garcia, Matt Kahler, and Chelsea Price. And behind the scenes a further shout out goes to Mikhail Fiksel (sound design), Sean Mallary (lighting design), and Aly Renee Amidei (costume design). Ian Zywica is listed as technical director and I suspect the ultimate production laurels should rest on his brow.
“Watership Down” runs through June 19 at the Lifeline Theatre, 6912 North Glenwood Avenue. Performances are Thursday and Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 4 and 8 p.m., and Sunday at 4 p.m. Tickets are $27 and $35. Call 7732 761 4477 or visit www.lifelinetheatre.com.
The show gets a rating of four stars. May 2011
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At the Lifeline Theater
By Dan Zeff
Chicago – “The Moonstone” is a long and leisurely Victorian novel, jammed with characters and incidents and descriptions. The Wilkie Collins adventure tale weighs in at more than 500 pages, typical of an English novel of the nineteenth century.
The Lifeline Theatre has carved out a niche in Chicagoland theater with its creative adaptations of classic novels, especially English fiction. Robert Kauzlaric has done a quality job of converting the original Wilkie Collins story into a three-act play that runs 2 hours and 45 minutes including a pair of intermissions. The 11-member Lifeline ensemble takes on about 20 roles, highlighted by a number of outstanding performances. But it’s the storytelling that holds the stage.
In the novel’s prologue, in 1799, an English military officer stole a huge diamond from the forehead of a sacred Hindu statue in India and brought it back to England. Fast forward to 1848, when an 18-year old Englishwoman named Rachel Verinder receives the diamond as a birthday gift. A few hours after the presentation the diamond disappears and everyone in the household comes under suspicion.
The list of possible thieves is a lush Victorian gallery of exotic characters, including three mysterious Hindus. By the time the mystery of the missing gem is solved, there has been one suicide, one other violent death, and a happy marriage. The narrative can be talky, but it also has its humor, suspense, and a resolution to the story that is highly improbable, but sufficient to wind up the story satisfactorily.
In literary history, “The Moonstone” is best known for the appearance of Sergeant Cuff, the most famous policeman in England on the case to discover the location of the moonstone and identify who took it. Sergeant Cuff was not the first detective in the history of the genre. Edgar Allan Poe and others created prototype detectives a generation earlier than the Collins novel (which was published in 1868). But Cuff became a role model for later professional detectives—methodical, persevering, and shrewd. He is also fallible, initially tagging the wrong person as the moonstone thief. But Cuff eventually nails the real culprit after much dashing about in dark streets and on a rooftop.
Kauzlaric’s adaptation follows the novel’s format by allowing the various characters to narrate the story, each providing his or her point of view as the narrative unfolds. The chief narrator is Gabriel Betteredge, the steward for the Verinder household, played with droll understatement by Sean Sinitski.
The story shifts between the provincial Verinder estate and London. Everyone on stage besides Sergeant Cuff eventually comes under a cloud of suspicion, including Rachel Verinder herself. The plot has its share of red herrings and misdirections in the spirit of detective fiction written during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In that same spirit it all gets explained at the end with the villain unmasked and the good guys vindicated.
The Lifeline literary adaptations have gained a well-earned reputation for creative staging, bringing historical periods alive with the skillful blend of costumes, sets, and props in the company’s intimate performing space. And so it is with “The Moonstone.” Bill Morey has outfitted the cast with a vast wardrobe of fine period costumes, including some handsome gowns worn by Rachel Verinder. Ian Zywica’s all-purpose bi-level set works equally well as a country house interior and the mean streets of London. Brandon Wardell’s lighting reinforces the atmosphere of the story. Cristina DeRisi’s sound design relies heavily on moody solo cello music that occasionally competes with the speakers on stage. The cast speaks in a variety of regional English accents that sometimes are difficult to follow, especially when the actors talk rapidly, which they often do.
Along with Sean Siniski, the most impressive performances come from Ann Sonneville as Rachel Verinder and Kaitlin Byrd as a pair of diametrically opposite females, Drusilla Clack and Rosanna Spearman. The attractive Sonneville has a splendid stage presence and a steely resolve as Rachel, yet she melts with appropriate Victorian femininity when the mystery is explained and she marries her man. Based on this performance, Sonneville is a young actress to watch on the area theater scene. Byrd shows remarkable range in her portrayals of Clack, a sanctimonious religious zealot played for comedy, and Spearman, the most tragic figure in the play, a brooding, homely servant who loves Franklin Blake, Rachel’s beau, in vain.
The remainder of the ensemble consists of Cody Proctor (Franklin Blake), Sonja Field, Peter Greenberg, Vincent P. Mahler, C. Sean Piereman, John Herbert Roberts, Dave Skvarla (as a hearty Sergeant Cuff), and Jennifer Tyler. The fine ensemble has been resourcefully directed by Paul S. Holmquist.
“The Moonstone” runs through March 27 at the Lifeline Theatre, 6912 North Glenwood Avenue. Performances are Thursday and Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 4 and 8 p.m., and Sunday at 4 p.m. Tickets are $32 and $35. Call 773 761 4477 or visit www.lifelinetheatre.com.
The show gets a rating of 31/2 stars. February 2011
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At the Lifeline Theatre
By Dan Zeff
CHICAGO—For most of “Neverwhere” at the Lifeline Theatre I didn’t have any idea what was happening on stage. But I did know that I was enjoying one of the most creative, complex, and entertaining productions in Lifeline’s history.
“Neverwhere” comes from the mind of Neil Gaiman, one of the hottest fantasy writers in the English-speaking world. Gaiman earned a reputation in the graphic novels and comics industries in the 1990’s but since has broken out into the mainstream, thanks to the success of his young adult novel “Coraline” and winning the Newbery children’s literature award for “The Graveyard Book” in 2009.
“Neverwhere” originated as a six-part television series for the BBC in England in 1996. Gaiman converted the television script into a novel that year, which Robert Kauzlaric has resourcefully adapted into the Lifeline play.
The Gaiman story starts out like an Alfred Hitchcock chase movie. In a Hitchcock film, an average man accidentally stumbles into a situation that mysteriously spins out of control, forcing the man to flee from dangers on all sides while he desperately tries to figure out why he is in such peril.
In “Neverwhere” Richard Mayhew, a Scotsman working in London, is walking with his fiancé to dinner with her important boss. He stops to assist a young woman who apparently has been the victim of a vicious assault. Richard takes the woman home. He learns her name is Door and not much else. But he is immediately plunged into a nightmare world that includes a pair of sadistic assassins and a civilization called London Below that exists parallel to the realistic London Above. Door tells Mayhew her family has been murdered and begs him to help her locate her father’s journal, which may hold the explanation to her family’s violent death.
After Richard signs on to help Door, all bets are off as to plot coherence. The couple meets the Marquis de Carabas, one of a menagerie of bizarre characters who inhabit London Below. They also run into a pair of Dickensian assassins named Croup and Vandemar and attend a “floating market” in Harrod’s department story. Richard battles the Great Beast of London Below and he and Door encounter an angel named Islington. There is also an implacable female hunter named Hunter and Rat-Speakers who perform jobs for rats. Meanwhile, Richard discovers when he returns to London Above that his identity has disappeared. Nobody recognizes him, including his fiancé, and his apartment has been rented out.
That’s the outline of the dense narrative. After the introductory scenes, the play starts to resemble those movie serials of the 1930’s and 1940’s, which mostly consist of a sequence of improbable hairbreadth escapes. Halfway through the show I’d lost track of Richard’s original goal and just took pleasure in watching him and Door wiggle in and out of one unlikely death-defying scrape after another.
At the end of the play the plot comes to a resolution, but the explanation doesn’t live up to all the previous derring-do. How could it? It’s the journey and not the destination that makes “Neverwhere” such a dazzling experience for the audience.
The Lifeline has earned a niche in Chicagoland theater for its resourceful adaptations famous books like “The Mark of Zorro” and “Around the World in 80 Days.” Those shows were impressive but “Neverwhere” raises the bar to an astonishing level in its brilliant physical staging and in the incredible versatility of its performers. Kauzlaric plays Richard Mayhew and Katie McLean plays Door. The other seven members of the ensemble play dozens of characters, from milling crowds above and below London to deliciously etched exotic personalities. The costume changes backstage must have been controlled anarchy to get everyone on stage and dressed properly on cue.
The most glorious of the supporting characters are Mr. Croup (Sean Sinitski) and Mr. Valdemar (Christopher M. Walsh). They make a marvelous pair of villains--droll, funny and chilling. Chris Hainsworth is terrific as the urbane and cynical Marquis. They take on multiple additional roles along with Patrick Blashill, Elise Kauzlaric, Kyra Morris, and Phil Timberlake. It’s a wondrous ensemble.
The visuals in the show are boggling. Alan Donahue’s set is dominated by tunnels and a balcony that allow for all manner of frantic exists and entrances. Kevin Gawley’s lighting drenches the production in Gothic atmosphere. The costumes by Elizabeth Powell Wislar are a feast of fantastical designs. Mikhail Fiksal designed the ever-present and insistent background sound and composed the original music.
A magnificent Great Beast is assembled on stage to fight the intrepid Richard Mayhew. For extra visual garnish, there are puppets designed by Kimberly G. Morris and videos and projections designed by Charlie Alves. And periodically a great bank of fog envelops the theater, an unnerving atmospheric experience for the front rows.
Somehow director Paul S. Holmquist has orchestrated this immensely complicated and dense production into a joyride of violent and comic action. It may not make sense overall, but from moment to moment Indiana Jones at his wildest has come to the Lifeline.
One quibble. Some of the British accents were so thick I lost some of the meaning, a problem exacerbated at times by overloud background sound effects. Otherwise “Neverwhere” is one huge sensory rush and a brilliant slice of stagecraft from opening moment to the final blackout. Don’t try to make sense of the plot. Just let the play gloriously wash over you.
“Neverwhere” runs through June 20 at the Lifeline Theatre, 6912 North Glenwood Avenue. Performances are Thursday and Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 4 and 8 p.m., and Sunday at 4 p.m. Tickets are $30. Call 773 761 4477 or visit www.lifelinetheatre.com May 2010
The show gets a rating of four stars.
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At the Lifeline Theatre
By Dan Zeff
CHICAGO—“Busman’s Honeymoon” brings Peter Greenberg back to the Lifeline Theatre for the fourth time as aristocratic amateur detective Lord Peter Wimsey, always a very good thing for Lifeline audiences.
“Busman’s Honeymoon” was published in 1937 as an adaptation of a play Sayers co-authored with Muriel St. Clair Burns. Instead of using the Sayers play, Lifeline commissioned Frances Limoncelli to develop a new adaptation. Limoncelli’s credentials for the job certainly are in order, having adapted three previous Wimsey novels for the theater.
“Busman’s Honeymoon” is the last of the Wimsey novels Dorothy Sayers completed, and one of her lesser efforts in the series. The novel is a sequel to “Gaudy Night,” a recent Lifeline success that established Wimsey’s passion for detective story writer Harriet Vane. Between books, Lord Peter pursued Harriet relentlessly for five years and “Busman’s Honeymoon” finally gets them married.
The novel’s action takes place during the couple’s honeymoon at Talboys, an Elizabethan country house in the English provinces. Sayers subtitled the work “A love story with detective interruptions” and the most entertaining portions of the play explore the marital adjustment between Lord Peter and Harriet. The audience sees the usually unflappable detective unexpectedly vulnerable and we even get a glimpse of his sex life.
The story doesn’t get to the murder until we are well into the first act. Mr. Nokes, the previous owner of Talboys, is discovered in the house’s wine cellar, murdered. Suspicion falls upon a number of local characters and Wimsey stumbles down one blind alley after another until he solves the crime.
This is one of those between-the-world-wars “Golden Age” mystery stories which revolves around a laughably improbable murder scheme that makes these tales so dated today. There is almost no tension in this very talky play as far as the mystery component is concerned. After endless discussion and interrogations conducted by Wimsey, Harriet and the local police inspector, the killer is revealed, the identity surprising nobody.
The play does have its pleasures. Sayers draws a few amusing character studies of the local yokels. Wimsey’s perfect butler Bunter goes ballistic when he discovers that a house servant had shaken every bottle in a case of port treasured by his lordship, thereby rendering the wine undrinkable for two weeks until the sediment resettles.
The interaction between Wimsey and Harriet strikes plenty of comic and dramatic sparks. The marriage reaches a crisis at the end of the play with Wimsey in an agony of guilt over sending the killer to the gallows, even though the murderer confessed and was unrepentant to the end. At the final blackout Wimsey is saved by the love of a good woman, his wife. But one senses that the Wimsey saga had run dry with Sayers and she did move on to devote herself to religious writing.
Peter Greenberg is stretched in this play, being called upon to do more than utter droll remarks and be witty, scholarly, sophisticated, and self consciously artificial. Greenberg deftly shows the personal side of the man, creating a credible, realistic portrait of a humanized Wimsey for the first time in the series.
Jenifer Tyler is a fine match for Greenberg as Harriet, an intelligent, compassionate woman who is her husband’s equal in intelligence, but with a little more heart.
The remainder of the cast, several doubling in lesser roles, includes Adam Breske, James E. Grote, Millicent Hurley (especially goods as an officious local biddy), Robert Kauzlaric, Paul Meyers, David Skvarla, and Christopher Walsh.
Paul Holmquist directs skillfully and unobtrusively. Mary Griswold designed a fine set that suggests the outside of the country house as well as showing a second floor bedroom, a parlor on the first floor, and assorted passageways. Joanna Melville designed the spot-on 1930’s costumes. Seth Reinick designed the lighting and Brett Masteller the sound.
“Busman’s Honeymoon” runs through June 21 at the Lifeline Theatre, 6912 North Glenwood Avenue. Performances are Thursday and Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 4 and 8 p.m., and Sunday at 4 p.m. Tickets are $30. Call 773 761 or visit www.lifeline.com.
The show gets a rating of three stars. May 2009
Contact Dan at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Mariette in Ecstasy
At the Lifeline Theatre
By Dan Zeff
CHICAGO—Plays about intense religious experience need to tread carefully, avoiding sensationalism, preaching, or mockery. It’s a delicate subject, which makes the Lifeline Theatre’s absorbing production of “Mariette in Ecstasy” all the more rewarding.
The Lifeline’s master adapter Christine Calvit has re-created Ron Hansen’s 1991 novel for the intimate Lifeline stage, where it is receiving its world premiere. It would be no surprise if this play found a healthy afterlife in regional theaters across the country following its Lifeline run. The show might even gain acceptance in the tough-minded New York theater scene with the proper sensitive staging.
Hansen sets his story in a rural upstate New York religious community for women called the Sisters of the Crucifixion. The year is 1906. The community is isolated from the outside world, existing in its own world of prayer, hard work, and daily routine. The tightly knit community has its share of gossip and jealousies, and there is a hint of subliminal lesbianism that channels itself into religious fervor.
Fracturing the quiet and regulated community life is the appearance of attractive 17-year old Mariette Baptiste. Mariette seeks to become a nun. From the outset she shows a heightened love of Jesus Christ, claiming that Jesus has often talked to her in the past. In the eyes of some of the nuns, Mariette is a model of piety worthy of adoration. In the eyes of the more skeptical and envious sisters, she is a transparent example of religious hysteria or pride.
As Mariette divides the convent into opposing camps, the internal conflict is intensified by the appearance of the stigmata on Mariette’s hands and body. The play then becomes a kind of mystery story. Are the stigmata genuine miracles or a hoax perpetrated on the community by Mariette for unknown reasons? The girl seems sincere and the wounds on her hands and body heal as spontaneously as they appear. If Mariette is a fraud, she’s a remarkably ingenious fraud.
The issue of the stigmata doesn’t arise until the second act. Until then, the play is largely a collection of character portraits of the religious community as the nuns go about their prayers and chores in an unbroken lifestyle that may be tedious and arduous but provides comfort and structure to the lives of the sisters.
To its credit, the play and the novel offer no facile answers to the questions it raises about Mariette’s stigmata and the authenticity of her devotion. At the end, Mariette is sent away from the convent into the everyday world not because she may be a deceiver but because she is a disrupter. The girl departs with regret but not bitterness, the veracity of her religious experience unresolved.
The play introduces the audience to nine members of the community, plus the community’s priest. The nine women each have sharply etched distinctive personalities. The three novices, played by Sarah Goeden, Sadie Rogers, and Elizabeth Olson, are young and girlish, almost like giggling members of as college sorority instead of the rigorous Sisters of the Crucifixion. The sisters cover the spectrum from hardheaded realists who harbor serious doubts about Mariette and her “miracles” to women eager to believe in miracles and the sanctity of Mariette’s belief.
The Lifeline ensemble performs superbly under Elise Kauzlaric’s sensitive but unobtrusive directing. Each actor locates the individual personality of her character with spot-on accuracy, not an easy task when the actresses blend together in their identical garb of black for the novices and white for the sisters.
The company casts Brenda Barrie in the central and difficult role of Mariette. Barrie plays the teen-ager with persuasive understatement and modesty. It’s difficult to believe her Mariette is a trickster or a hysteric but there is such subtlety and depth in her performance that the matter remains open ended, and properly so.
In addition to the novices, the sisters are played by Patrice Egleston as the current prioress and Mariette’s older sister, Morgan McCabe as the former prioress, and Melinda Polus, Janice O’Neill, Kate McLean, and Allison Cain as the other sisters. There is a fine humane performance by Brian Perry as the community’s priest and Shole Milos plays Mariette’s doctor/father, a worldly man who attempts to explode his daughter’s presumed “miracles.”
Alan Donahue has created an effective multi-level set that admirably establishes the various spaces within the convent. Branimira Ivanova designed the authentic-looking religious costumes and Sarah Hughey the complex lighting plan. Tim Hill is the sound designer and Joseph Burt is the musical director responsible for the splendid Gregorian chant singing by the ensemble.
“Mariette in Ecstasy” takes its place in the canon of other twentieth century plays and films that explore supernatural religious experience, like “Saint Joan,” “The Song of Bernadette,” and “Agnes of God.” It’s a play of warmth, sympathy, humor, suspense, and humanity. Well done all around.
“Mariette in Ecstasy” runs through April 5 at the Lifeline Theatre, 6912 North Glenwood Avenue. Performances are Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 4 and 8 p.m., and Sunday at 4 p.m. Tickets are $30. Call 773 761 4477 or visit www.lifelinetheatre.com.
The show gets a rating of four stars. February 2009Contact Dan at email@example.com.
The Picture of Dorian Gray
At the Lifeline Theatre
By Dan Zeff
CHICAGO—The Lifeline Theatre production of “The Picture of Dorian Gray’ is superb theater and first-rate Oscar Wilde. The drama ranks among the best shows this theater has ever done, high but well-earned praise for a company justly celebrated for its stage adaptations of literary works.
“The Picture of Dorian Gray” was published in book form in
1891 and immediately caused a scandal in Victorian England. The novel helped
convict Wilde of “gross indecency” four years later.
The title character is a handsome young man who falls under the pernicious influence of Lord Henry Wotton. Wotton is an aesthete who lives for pleasure and beauty, a Wilde stand-in. He initiates Dorian Gray into a life of sensuality and vice, turning the younger man from an innocent into a model of depravity. There is a supernatural element to the story. Gray’s portrait is painted by Basil Hallward. Gray contrives a satanic bargain by which he retains his precious youth while the portrait, locked away in an attic, reflects the physical horrors of Gray’s descent into dissipation and cruelty.
By the end of the play, Gray has murdered one man and been responsible for the suicides of two other characters, including his fiancée, Sibyl Vane, an actress who dotes on Gray and poisons herself after he rejects her as a bad artist. At the end of the narrative, Gray tries to destroy the painting and in the act, destroys himself. The painting returns to the beauty of its subject and the real Gray dies in physical corruption.
Robert Kauzlaric masterfully adapts and condenses the novel, preserving Wilde’s aphorisms and wit, mostly spoken by the cynical Wotton, as well as much of Wilde’s philosophy of art and beauty. The adaptation takes most of its language from the novel and what aren’t Wilde’s words certainly sound like them.
Kauzlaric uses the effective device of presenting the four major supporting characters in both their youthful and older persons. Thus we get the younger and older Wotton and Hallward, as well as a scientist named Alan Campbell and the brother of Sibyl Vane, a man dedicated to tracking down Gray to avenge the death of his sister.
The older manifestations of the characters stand on a balcony above the stage, commenting on the action below. They also enter the action directly, even as ghosts who haunt Gray as his guilty conscience erodes his mental stability.
The big finish in the novel, and in the two motion picture versions, comes in the attic when Gray finally confronts his painted image, the mirror of all his sins for the last 18 years of his life. The 1945 film version reaches its climax with Ivan Albright’s stunning portrait of the corrupt Gray. In the Lifeline treatment, the painting plays its part in Gray’s death, and so do the characters violated by Gray’s descent into evil. It’s a brilliant coup de theatre, concluding with an original flourish, Wotton being handed a knife to end his own dissipated life.
The novel is supremely literate and the Lifeline cast is well up to the mark in delivering that literacy with both wry humor and dramatic intensity. The key performance, of course, must come from the actor playing Dorian Gray. Nick Vidal does a splendid job of rendering the shadings that turn Gray from a handsome innocent into a moral degenerate.
Paul Holmquist triumphs in tossing off all those juicy Wildean lines as the younger Henry Wotton, the jaded sophisticate irresistible to an impressionable Dorian Gray, a youth open to tasting the delights of forbidden lusts. Sean Sinitski smoothly picks up the Wotton character in later life, still the urbane rogue.
The other major characters are all well played by Aaron Snook and Don Bender (the younger and elder Basil Hallward), Kyle A. Gibson and John Ferrick (the younger and elder Alan Campbell), and Adam Breske and David Skvarla (the younger and older avenging brother).
Special commendation goes to Melissa Nedell, the only female in the ensemble, for a superb job as the lovesick Sibyl Vane who becomes a sinister presence in Gray’s mind after her death.
Kevin Theis has done a masterful job of directing the demanding script with a perfect eye for its verbal richness, building up the suspense nicely to the stunning final scene. Tom Burch’s bi-level set credibly represents a Victorian drawing room and that menacing attic. Branimira Ivanova designed the authentic looking Victorian costumes. Kevin D. Gawley designed the lighting and Andrew Hansen the original music and sound. The credit for “violence design,” a label new to me, goes to Richard Gilbert and David Gregory who created the production’s intense final moments.
“The Picture of Dorian Gray” runs through November 2 at the Lifeline Theatre, 6912 North Glenwood Avenue. Performances are Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 4 and 8 p.m., and Sunday at 4 p.m. Tickets are $30. Call 773 761 4477 or visit www.lifelinetheatre.com.
The show gets a rating of four stars. Sept.2008
Contact Dan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Mark of Zorro
at the Lifeline Theatre
By Dan Zeff
CHICAGO—The Lifeline staging of “The Mark of Zorro” is a triumph, no surprise for a company that has carved an essential niche for itself in area theater with its adaptations of literary works. What is notable is how the production triumphs on so many levels.
“The Mark of Zorro” is a novel written by a forgotten
American author named Johnston McCulley. He first published the story as a
magazine serial in 1919 under the name “The Curse of Capistrano.” It didn’t
take its more familiar name until Douglas Fairbanks Sr. made a classic silent
movie out of the film in 1920.
McCulley’s original is a takeoff on the hero who avenges the poor and oppressed. The gimmick is that the hero wears a disguise to cover his true identity, usually as a humdrum real life figure nobody would suspect of being a dashing figure who swoops around to defeat the forces of evil. Consider the Scarlet Pimpernel, Superman, and Spider-Man, all champions of the common man and woman in their fight against the tyranny of the powerful while masquerading as ineffectual civilians.
In “The Mark of Zorro,” the hero is a flamboyant swordsman named Zorro, the protector of the defenseless in colonial Spanish California during the early 1800’s. In real life Zorro (a Spanish word for fox) is Don Diego Vega, who presents himself as an effete, cowardly young aristocrat. As Zorro he is transformed, masked and wearing black with sword flashing, to rescue damsels in distress and other victims of the cruel Spanish governor and his chief henchman, Captain Ramon.
The audience at the Lifeline Theatre would expect lots of swashbuckling action, some romance, and some spoofing comedy, all of which Katie McLean’s adaptation supplies in abundance. But customers might not anticipate a show that provides real dramatic tension and full-blooded characters. The audience likely will enter the theater anticipating a cartoon, but they will leave the theater thrilled they have seen a genuine play, beautifully acted and miraculously staged in the tiny Lifeline playing area.
The heart of the production is James Elly in a breakout
performance as Don Diego/Zorro. Elly is a delight as the bland and faintly
swishy Don Diego. The don’s reluctant courtship scenes with the spunky Lolita
Pulido are a comic hoot, but when Elly dons his mask and morphs into Zorro,
he’s every inch the dashing and courageous hero with flashing sword and
swirling cape. Zorro’s swordfights with the bad guys, notably Captain Ramon,
are high-risk adventures with no margin for error, either for the performers or
spectators sitting in the first row.
Elly is handsomely supported by a talented supporting cast, notably Don Bender as Don Diego’s demanding father, Robert Kauzlaric as the insolent Captain Ramon, Rose de Guindos as the strong-minded Lolita, Manny Tamayo as the blowhard Sergeant Gonzales, Hanlon Smith-Dorsey as the nasty governor and a good guy friar, and Allison Cain and Larry Baldacci as Lolita’s parents desperate to have their daughter accept the waffling proposal of the wealthy but uninspiring Don Diego.
The versatile ensemble consists of B. Diego Colon, Eduardo Garcia, Jonathan Helvey, Brian Kilborn, and Jennifer Munoz. They switch from the governor’s soldiers to peasants to caballeros who eventually ride with Zorro against the forces of injustice. The group changes in and out of costumes backstage in nanoseconds and the gusto they bring to their brawling and singing and dancing is terrific.
Katie McLean’s adaptation crams an impressive amount of story into the two hours of performing time, respecting the material where a lesser dramatist would have patronized the material as a nudge-nudge wink-wink comedy. Even the villains in the narrative are three-dimensional, Captain Ramon’s fault being more one of arrogance than comic strip evil. At the end of the story, the governor and the captain are not killed, just humiliated by the newly empowered downtrodden. What could have been a B western turns out to be an exciting and absorbing story, leavened by comedy.
The backstage kudos start with Dorothy Milne’s amazing direction, squeezing a remarkable amount of action and crowd scenes fluently onto that small Lifeline stage. Alan Donohue’s set is dominated by a replica of an adobe mission building exterior that allows Zorro plenty of sudden derring-do entrances from atop the pile, supplying the production with vertical as well as horizontal energy. Branimira Ivanova’s costumes look just right for their period. John Sanchez’s lighting and the sound design by Victoria Delorio are a big help. And a standing ovation goes to Geoff Coates for his fight choreography.
A most entertaining evening.
“The Mark of Zorro” runs through June 22 at the Lifeline Theatre, 6912 North Glenwood Avenue. Performances are Friday at 7:3e0 p.m., Saturday at 4 and 8 p.m., and Sunday at 4 p.m. Tickets are $25. Call 773 761 4477.
The show gets a rating of four stars. May 2008
For more information contact www.lifelinetheatre.com.
Contact Dan: email@example.com
Talking It Over
at the Lifeline Theatre
By Dan Zeff
CHICAGO—The modern theater does not lack for plays about romantic triangles, Noel Coward’s “Design for Living” and Harold Pinter’s “Betrayal” being two examples among many. Although they differ in tone, both explore the shifting relationships among two men and a woman. Now the Lifeline Theatre has added its modest contribution to the genre with its world premiere adaptation of the 1991 Julian Barnes novel “Talking It Over.”
Barnes is one of England’s leading literary figures, known for his sophistication, urbane prose, and personal style. The Lifeline’s Peter Greenberg has converted the Barnes tale for the stage, retaining much of the novel’s language and storytelling manner.
Barnes’s novel explores the turbulent love triangle that consists of Stuart, Oliver, and Gillian. Stuart and Oliver have been friends since their school days, in spite of their vastly contrasting personalities. Stuart is a plodder, a safe type with a career in banking. Oliver is charismatic, articulate, and feckless. Early in the play, Stuart meets Gillian, a laid back young woman who restores art for a living. They quickly fall in love and marry. Then Oliver discovers he loves Gillian and pursues the woman for himself. From that point on, an originally lighthearted story turns progressively more intense and complicated.
In the novel, Barnes has his characters speak directly to the reader. Greenberg preserves the device, at least for the first act. Each character talks directly to the audience, asking that the viewers side with him or her as the plot unfolds. In a rapid set of quick speeches, the characters describe their take on personal events, past and present. As they speak, they are framed in an isolating spotlight (the lighting design by Maggie Fullilove-Nugent must include hundreds of lighting cues, each requiring split second timing).
The narrative assumes a “Rashomon“-like atmosphere of ambiguity. The characters all have their own spin on what happens as relationships alter and people get hurt. The audience can pick and choose among the versions, but the schematics of the plot are clear—Stuart gets Gillian, Stuart loses Gillian, Oliver gets Gillian, leading to a conclusion that may perplex and irritate some spectators while others will welcome it as legitimately open ended.
If there is a message in the play, it might be that love can be messy and bruising. The major difficulty with the narrative resides in the temperaments of the three main characters. None of the three is particularly sympathetic, and when they all go over the emotional cliff at the end I didn’t much care.
Stuart and Oliver are so different in psychological makeup that it’s difficult to accept that they ever became best friends. Gillian’s shift from one man to the other reflects a callousness that undercuts the low-keyed intelligence of the character. Oliver has most of the clever lines, but he’s still a home wrecker, no matter how sincerely he professes that he adores Gillian. The bottom line is that Oliver broke up the marriage of his best friend and Gillian let it happen. As for Stuart, cuckolds are never attractive figures.
The play runs about 15 minutes too long, especially in the final act. The first act is mostly those spotlighted rapid-fire monologues. The second act presents a more conventional dramatic structure, with the characters interacting. A few minor characters are brought into the story in the second act to further muddy the narrative waters about who we should believe among the three lovers.
The Lifeline casting for Stuart, Oliver, and Gillian is spot on. John Ferrick has the fleshy, slightly nebbish quality that perfectly suits Stuart. Chris Hainsworth likewise is just right as the handsome, well spoken, manipulating Oliver. Elise Kauzlaric, doing her best work at Lifeline as Gillian, is superb as the slightly self-effacing young woman who messes up three lives when she shifts from Stuart to Oliver.
Two supporting actresses appear in the second act. Katie McLean plays a sluttish friend of both men who offers her own tart commentary on the veracity of past events in the story. Ann Wakefield plays three characters, including Gillian’s French mother and a Frenchwoman who delivers the play’s crucial final lines. Unfortunately, Wakefield’s impenetrable French accent rendered most of her lines unintelligible.
A group of scenic designers led by Andre LaSalle is responsible for the production’s look, dominated by a series of large Picasso-esque paintings on canvas that are periodically changed by the characters, each set of paintings progressively darker in subject to reflect the increasingly troubled downward spiral of the story.
Branimira Ivanova designed the costumes and Mikhail Fiksel the sound. Phil Timberlake is the dialect coach, He does well with the English accents but the French accents are killers. Dorothy Milne directs the physically tricky production, with all those lighting cues and rapid entrances and exists and costume changes.
“Talking It Over” runs through March 23 at the Lifeline Theatre, 6912 North Glenwood Avenue. Performances are Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 4 and 8 p.m., and Sunday at 4 p.m. Tickets are $25. Call 773 761 4477.
The show gets a rating of three stars. March 2008For more information contact: www.lifelinetheatre.com
Contact us at: Zeffdaniel@yahoo.com