Upcoming Dance

Lifeline Theatre presents the world premiere of Her Majesty’s Will, adapted by Lifeline Theatre ensemble member Robert Kauzlaric (Non-Equity Jeff Awards: New Adaptation, The Island of Dr. Moreau and Neverwhere), and directed by Lifeline Theatre ensemble member Chris Hainsworth, based on the 2013 novel by Chicago-based author/actor/fight choreographer (and Rogers Park resident) David Blixt, who will design the violence for the production.

Young William Shakespeare is hiding from the law in rural Lancashire, languishing as a simple school master. Christopher Marlowe is living the high life as a spy for the Crown. When a dastardly plot to assassinate the Queen draws these two unforgettable wits together, Will is swept up in a world of intrigue, treachery, and mayhem in an adventure that will define the rest of his life – if he can only manage to save Her Majesty. An irreverent comedy that imagines Shakespeare’s “lost years” as a rousing romp through the streets and across the stages of Elizabethan London. The production runs two and a half hours with one intermission. The novel will be on sale in the lobby.

Her Majesty’s Will runs May 26 – July 16 at Lifeline Theatre, 6912 N. Glenwood Ave. (free parking and shuttle; see below). Press opening is Sunday, June 4 at 4 p.m. Opening night is Tuesday, June 6 at 7:30 p.m. (Previews are Fridays, May 26 and June 2 at 7:30 p.m.; Saturdays, May 27 and June 3 at 8 p.m.; and Sunday, May 28 at 4 p.m.) Regular performance times (June 8 – July 16) are Thursdays and Fridays at 7:30 p.m., Saturdays at 4 and 8 p.m., and Sundays at 4 p.m. Ticket prices are $40 for regular single tickets, $30 for active and retired military personnel (with ID), $30 for seniors, $20 for students (with ID), $20 for rush tickets (available half hour before show time, subject to availability), and $20 for previews. Group rate for 12 or more is available upon request. Tickets may be purchased at the Lifeline Theatre Box Office, 773.761.4477, or by visiting www.lifelinetheatre.com.

Accessible Performances: The Saturday, June 17, 4 p.m. performance will feature open captioning for patrons who are deaf or hard-of-hearing. The Saturday, June 24, 4 p.m. performance will feature a pre-show touch tour of the set at 2:30 p.m. and live audio description for patrons who are blind or have low vision. For more information about Lifeline’s accessibility services, please contact Accessibility Coordinator Erica Foster at 773.761.4477 x703 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The complete cast and production team for Her Majesty’s Will includes:

CAST: Lifeline Theatre ensemble member Peter Greenberg (Robert Greene); with guest artists Don Bender (Sir Francis Walsingham), Bryan Bosque (Christopher Marlowe), Heather Chrisler (Chorus, Helena of Snakenborg, Emily Ball), Dan Cobbler (Dick Tarlton, Sir Thomas Lucy), Javier Ferreira (William Shakespeare), LaQuin Groves (John Savage), Martel Manning (John Lyly), and Mike Ooi (Cutting Ball). With understudies Justin Harner, Maggie Patchett, and Cole Simon. 

PRODUCTION TEAM: Lifeline Theatre ensemble members Aly Renee Amidei (Costume Designer), Chris Hainsworth (Director), and Robert Kauzlaric (Adaptor); with guest artists David Blixt (Fight Choreographer), Diane D. Fairchild (Lighting Designer), Morgan Gire (Assistant Stage Manager), Lavina Jadhwani (Casting Director), Eleanor Kahn (Scenic Designer), Jeffrey Levin (Original Music & Sound Designer), Alec Long (Properties Designer), Jennifer McClendon (Production Manager), Caitlin McManus (Assistant Director), Annaliese McSweeney (Dramaturg), Sam Moryoussef (Master Electrician/AV Supervisor), Kate Reed (Stage Manager), Sarah Scanlon (Assistant Director), and Joe Schermoly (Technical Director).

Lifeline Theatre presents Her Majesty’s Will, running May 26 – July 16 at Lifeline Theatre, 6912 N. Glenwood Ave. (free parking and shuttle; see below). Opening night is Tuesday, June 6 at 7:30 p.m. (Previews are Fridays, May 26 and June 2 at 7:30 p.m.; Saturdays, May 27 and June 3 at 8 p.m.; and Sunday, May 28 at 4 p.m.) Regular performance times (June 8 – July 16) are Thursdays and Fridays at 7:30 p.m., Saturdays at 4 and 8 p.m., and Sundays at 4 p.m. Ticket prices are $40 for regular single tickets, $30 for active and retired military personnel (with ID), $30 for seniors, $20 for students (with ID), $20 for rush tickets (available half hour before show time, subject to availability), and $20 for previews. Group rate for 12 or more is available upon request. Tickets may be purchased at the Lifeline Theatre Box Office, 773.761.4477, or by visiting www.lifelinetheatre.com.

Lifeline Theatre is accessible by CTA (Red Line Morse stop/busses) and free parking is available at the Field School parking lot (7019 N. Ashland St., entrance on Greenleaf between Ashland and Greenview) with free shuttle service before and after the show. Street parking is also available. Lifeline is accessible to wheelchair users and visitors who need to avoid stairs.

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Now in its 34th season, Lifeline Theatre is driven by a passion for story. Our ensemble process supports writers in the development of literary adaptations and new work, and our theatrical and educational programs foster a lifelong engagement with literature and the arts. A cultural anchor of Rogers Park, we are committed to deepening our connection to an ever-growing family of artists and audiences, both near and far. Lifeline Theatre – Big Stories, Up Close.

Lifeline Theatre’s programs are partially supported by Alphawood Foundation; A.R.T League Inc.; Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation; Chicago CityArts, a grant from the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events; The Chicago Community Trust: Persons with Disability Fund; The Common Cup; Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation; FGMK LLC; Lloyd A. Fry Foundation; The Grover Hermann Foundation; Illinois Arts Council Agency; Illinois Humanities Council; Lagunitas Brewing Co. Community Grant Program; MacArthur Fund for Arts and Culture at Prince; The PAV Grant Fund; The Polk Bros. Foundation; Poubelle Fund, a Donor Advised Fund of Renaissance Charitable Foundation; Rogers Park Social; S&C Electric Company Fund; The Shubert Foundation; and the annual support of businesses and individuals.

 

 

Published in Upcoming Theatre
Wednesday, 25 January 2017 12:41

Review: The House Theatre's "Diamond Dogs"

The House Theatre of Chicago artistic director Nate Allen introduces the world premiere of Diamond Dogs, an adaptation of a short story by Alastair Reynolds, by noting that it is “hard sci-fi” and a departure from the optimism usually implicit in House Theatre shows. Since a significant plot point of Diamond Dogs is people undergoing medical transformation into floating diamonds, I question how “hard” the science in this fiction actually is, but I think it is fair to say that the term signals that the story caters to a different set of expectations and interests than people usually expect from other genres. The House has also performed enough tragedies recently, including an adaptation of The Bacchae, that the optimism Allen refers to is meant in the sense that people have significant enough good qualities for their self-destruction to elicit sorrow. Diamond Dogs doesn’t really do that. Like Moby Dick, one of the stories best known for a pessimistic view of peoples’ graces to flaws ratio, Diamond Dogs depicts people slowly killing themselves in pursuit of an idiotic objective, but it depicts them in a manner which is far more frustrating.

The adaptors, called Althos Low (a group also known as Shanghai Low Theatricals led by Steve Pickering) are working from one of sixteen stories within Reynolds’s Revelation Space series. The backstory is long and complicated, but basically, hundreds of years from now, humans have colonized space, developed cybernetic enhancements to our bodies and intelligence, and can skip over the boring centuries traveling in between stars by freezing and unfreezing ourselves. Our viewpoint character, Richard Swift (John Henry Roberts), is still youthful at one hundred and seventy-two years old, and in mourning for his parents and dozens of other people who died in an experiment meant to achieve immortality. It seems that effective immortality has been achieved through other means anyway, but Swift refuses to criticize the dead, and while honoring them, is surprised to find their leader, his boyhood friend Roland Childe (Chris Hainsworth), still very much alive. Childe claims he has found the key to technology which could lead to resurrection, and asks Swift to join his exploration team.

Though no living aliens have been encountered thus far, traces of their long-dead civilizations have been found, and Childe is particularly interested in a structure he has named Blood Spire on a desolate planet he calls Golgotha. The Blood Spire is a floating spiral tower with a pile of corpses at its base. Childe claims to have spoken with a survivor who said that to climb within the tower, explorers must answer increasingly difficult mathematical questions as they move from room to room. A wrong answer results in mutilation, and repeated failures in death. Also, the Blood Spire’s AI is advanced enough to be considered sentient. The motley crew Childe has assembled consists of Swift, Swift’s ex-wife, Celestine (Katherine Keberlein), who has cybernetic implants to make her a math whiz and whom Swift has had suppressed in his memories, Forqueray (Abu Ansari), a captain, Hirz (Elana Elyce), a mercenary hacker, and Dr. Trintignant (Joey Steakley), a fugitive who kidnapped and murdered dozens of people while developing new cybernetics. They do not get along and their attempts to climb the tower do not go very well.

It takes until the beginning of the second act for somebody to point out that they do not have the slightest reason to believe that the tower is in any way related to their supposed objective, and even longer for someone to point out that there is no reason to believe the tower would ever allow them to win. However, it is also made clear early on that none of their objections matter. While Captain Ahab was a charismatic figure who inspired his men to believe in him and made them feel valued, Childe is a bully who immediately resorts to physical intimidation and openly delights in humiliating his crew and watching them quaver in terror of Blood Spire’s traps. But he’s only one man, and what really keeps the other five returning to the tower again and again is ego and spite. I was reminded while watching Diamond Dogs of a game my family played last Christmas which all of us hated, but which went on for hours because none of us would quit first or allow ourselves to lose. Diamond Dogs is about people who are supposedly very intelligent and truly loathe each other doing something with serious consequences for losing, but not winning.

As for the staging, it’s technically brilliant, but in service of a story which is claustrophobic and cerebral. Lee Keenan has supplied all sorts of special lights to create the Blood Spire environment, and several of these are integrated into Izumi Inaba’s very cool space costumes. Inaba and sound designer Sarah Espinoza also had the foresight to put microphones into the masks and helmets. Mary Robinette Kowal’s puppets are also visually impressive, and I gather that they are considerably more graceful and ghostly than what is described of the titular diamond dogs in Reynolds’s text. But Allen’s direction can’t avoid the Sisyphean nature of the plot and theme, so the visual elements’ power wears thin after not very long.

The six actors also do a fine job with broadly written characters. Steakley, in particular, has mastered an odd movement vocabulary, which he relies on because Dr. Trintignant always wears a mask and may not even have a face. Roberts is also a stand-out in a role which requires the audience to become increasingly disillusioned with his character. For fans of the Revelation Space series, Diamond Dogs is a must-see, and The House’s production values are used here in service of an interesting aesthetic rarely seen elsewhere. But the aggravating nature of the story makes it important for anybody who is not a hard sci-fi fan to know what they are getting into beforehand. Certain plot points late in the play which seemed too convenient or didn’t make sense made me even more frustrated. Diamond Dogs has its strong points, but is firmly situated within its niche.

Somewhat Recommended

Diamond Dogs is performed in the upstairs at the Chopin Theatre, 1543 W Division St, Chicago, Illinois. Running time is two hours and twenty minutes with one intermission. Tickets are $30-35; to order, visit thehousetheatre.com or call 773-769-3832.

Performances are Thursdays-Saturdays at 8:00 pm and Sundays at 7:00 pm through March 5. 

 

Published in Theatre in Review

 

 

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