Transcript (lightly edited) of the 9.29.2019 Chicago Theater Report
Every Brilliant Thing at Windy City Playhouse South
Duncan Macmillan’s critically-acclaimed “Every Brilliant Thing” opened this week at Windy City Playhouse South. The show is adapted from the HBO and Off-Broadway hit and stars Rebecca Spence stars in a one-person, interactive performance. The show is playing through December 8th. For tickets and more information, please visit WindyCityPlayhouse.com.
Note: You can purchase tickets to Every Brilliant Thing at a deep discount on HotTix, a service provided by the League of Chicago Theatres.
The Barber of Seville at Lyric Opera
The Barber of Seville opens this weekend at the Lyric Opera. I’ll have a full report next week, but I do encourage you to get tickets for this excellent production. The show runs through October 27th. Also coming up at the Lyric is Luisa Miller, running October 12th -31st, and Dead Man Walking debuts on November 11th through the 22nd. Visit LyricOpera.org for tickets and information.
Note: The Lyric does offer group, student, and educator discounts and that supertitles are projected above the stage so that you can easily follow along.
Note: Discounted tickets for The Barber of Seville are also available via the League of Chicago Theatres’ HotTix service.
Whose Body? at Lifeline Theatre
I had a new experience this week when I went to see Lifeline Theatre’s Whose Body?, an adaptation of the Dorothy Sayers novel of the same name. I have been a fan for over 30 years of Dorothy Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries, and Whose Body? is the first novel that Sayers wrote about the gentleman detective.
Every few years I go back and reread these stories because even though I know how they end up, the writing is that good. I’ve also have a strong affection for Lord Peter himself, as well as the many other characters in the books.
I was excited at the announcement that Whose Body? Would be part of the 2019-2020 season at the Lifeline and had high hopes given the quality of the other play that I saw there.
I was also a bit trepidatious, however, because I’ve not always agreed with the casting in other adaptations of these mysteries, though I was thrilled to see that one of my favorite local actors, William Anthony Sebastian Rose II, would be taking on the role of Lord Peter.
So even though I’d been looking forward to the play for some time, I was very shocked at the tension in my body as I settled into my seat. My knowledge of the story and its characters gave rise to anxiety: I might well lose control of the way I portray them in my head while reading the books.
After the play started, this tension did not clear, as I tried to adjust to some of the actors. Eventually, however, I was able to adjust and enjoy a remarkable production.
Whose Body? introduces us to Lord Peter, a second son of a duke who is nonetheless gifted with a keen intellect and high income. Having served as an officer during World War I, he is now given to the gentlemanly pursuits of drinking brandy, collecting old books and solving crime.
Lord Peter is ably assisted by Mr. Bunter, his valet, and, in a small way, his Mother, The Dowager Duchess of Denver. Having learned from the latter that a respectable architect has inexplicably found a corpse in his bathtub, our intrepid aristocrat is off on a mission to discover not only the identity of the body, but the person responsible for its death.
As the play proceeds, we learn more about Lord Peter Wimsey, a man who at first seems to embody his surname, though as the story unfolds, we learn that there is perhaps more to his identity than our prejudices will allow us to expect.
The script, by Frances Limoncelli is excellent and is by turns faithful to Dorothy Sayers’ original tale while also offering some gentle correctives that were only possible after the lessons taught to us by mid-century events and personages.
Jess Hutchinson is the director of this superb production: I’ve seen her work before in Lifeline’s excellent The Man Who Was Thursday. I believe that Whose’ Body may well exceed that play in quality. I would also note that William Anthony Sebastian Rose II was the understudy for the role of Gabriel Syme in The Man Who Was Thursday, and I was fortunate enough to see his performance. Director and actor clearly work well together, and I must say that Rose is now my very model of Lord Peter.
Still, my experience at the play has taught me a bit of caution: Rose may well be my standard Whimsey for years to come, but I’ve also learned to be hopeful. One day, perhaps, another production of one of the Wimsey mysteries will lead me to find a new favorite. That hope is a good thing, reminding me that theater is a living art and is to be anticipated even when there is a risk of my own characterizations being disrupted.
I would also like to give credit the stage designer, stage managers, sound, costume and lighting designers: The staging of this play was magnificent. I’d note that seven actors played a cast that reaches into the teens: Most of the time I was unaware of double-and-triple-casting.
Whose Body? at the Lifeline Theatre runs through October 27th. Parking is limited in the area, but there is free parking available at nearby Sullivan High School and Lifeline offers complimentary shuttle transportation to and from the parking lot. I’ve taken advantage of this service myself, and it is very nicely done. Visit www.lifelinetheatre.com for more information.
Note: Whose Body? tickets are also available at a discount at HotTix.
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