Review: Monstrous Regiment (Lifeline Theatre)

| June 17, 2014
Matt Engle and Sarah Price star in Lifeline Theatre's "Monstrous Regiment," adapted by Chris Hainsworth, directed by Kevin Theis. (photo credit: Kelsey Jorissen)        
      
Monstrous Regiment

Adapted by Chris Hainsworth  
Directed by Kevin Theis
at Lifeline Theatre, 6912 N. Glenwood (map)
thru July 20  |  tickets: $20-$40   |  more info
       
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A monstrously good time!

     

Kim Boler, Matt Engle, Melissa Engle, John Ferrick, Robert Kauzlaric, Katie McLean Hainsworth, Michaela Petro, Sarah Price, Justine C. Turner, Christopher M. Walsh, Mandy Walsh star in Lifeline Theatre's "Monstrous Regiment," adapted by Chris Hainsworth, directed by Kevin Theis. (photo credit: Kelsey Jorissen)

    
Lifeline Theatre presents
    
Monstrous Regiment

Review by Clint May 

Lifeline’s dedication to bringing the literary to life takes on what may be its grandest fantasy adaptation since “Lord of the Rings”. Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series—begun in 1983 and still going—is a massive bestseller with a devoted cult following. Monstrous Regiment is the 31st of the 40 extant books, and entering the world this far into the series is a curious choice. Thanks to a skillful adaptation by Chris Hainsworth, Lifeline has faith in our ability to accept the fantastical and eschews many esoteric details. Fans of the series and newcomers (like me) alike will delight in this rollicking tale of gender bending warriors who must fight not just their enemies but the stifling constraints of conservatism.

Kim Boler, Matt Engle, Melissa Engle, John Ferrick, Robert Kauzlaric, Katie McLean Hainsworth, Michaela Petro, Sarah Price, Justine C. Turner, Christopher M. Walsh and Mandy Walsh star in Lifeline Theatre's "Monstrous Regiment," adapted by Chris Hainsworth, directed by Kevin Theis. (photo credit: Kelsey Jorissen)Upon the magical Discworld (so named because the world is in fact a disc), the small country of Borogravia is at war with their more advanced neighbors. The intrepid Polly (Sarah Price) enlists in the army Joan of Arc-style to rescue her brother from behind enemy lines. Renamed “Oliver Perks,” she soon discovers that many of her regimental Band of Brothers are actually her “Sisters.” It’s heavily implied that this is because there are so few men left in the flagging war effort to enlist. True to the title, there are actual monsters—a coffee-loving vampire (Michaela Petro), a dim-witted troll (Justine C. Turner) and a creepy Igor (Katie McLean Hainsworth). Some are just escaping the monstrous conditions in their misogynistic homeland. Abused in the Girl’s Working School, Lofty (Mandy Walsh), Tonker (Kim Boler) and Wazzer (Melissa Engle) are a misfit group of wild cards who may or may not defect at the border. Under the command of the stalwart Sergeant Jackrum (Christopher M. Walsh) and foppish Lieutenant Blouse (Robert Kauzlaric), they fight their way to an enemy stronghold and gain a reputation as a fierce brigand en route.

Pratchett’s thick self-aware satire of war takes on propaganda, gender roles, hollow patriotism and incompetent leadership. The entire Discworld series is as large a mythology as Harry Potter or Tolkien, and specifically a Swiftian spoof of the tropes found therein mingled with current events. Monstrous Regiment has overtones of Orwell brought in for good measure in a world where the laws of physics include a meta-force that is solely dedicated to maintaining cohesive narratives.

John Ferrick, Sarah Price and Christopher M. Walsh in Lifeline Theatre's "Monstrous Regiment," adapted by Chris Hainsworth, directed by Kevin Theis. (photo credit: Kelsey Jorissen)

As in many sci-fi/fantasy stories, it’s the side characters that get the best moments. Price is pretty funny in her own right, but no one can compete with the wickedly hilarious Hainsworth and her lisping Igor. Preening and ambiguously gendered, Petro’s blood-abstaining vampire is a fabulous construct. The award for most lovable goes to Turner’s lumbering rock troll. Everyone may have a different favorite, as Kevin Theis has pitch-perfectly directed them with a Mel Brooksian verve (some parts are definitely reminiscent of Young Frankenstein). Social criticism is never bogged down by a primary need to get another giggle or outright guffaw. Lifeline’s technical team similarly fires on all cylinders with Joanna Iwanicka’s adaptable scenery and some imaginative costumes by Emily McConnell earning top marks.

Replete with running gags and blink-and-you’ll-miss them jokes, Monstrous Regiment even manages a few surprises and largely transcends its fantasy roots. Whimsical summer fun rarely come as delectably packaged as this!

  
Rating: ★★★★
  
   

Monstrous Regiment continues through July 20th at Lifeline Theatre, 6912 N. Glenwood (map), with performances Thursdays and Fridays at 7:30pm, Saturdays 4pm and 8pm, Sundays 4pm.  Tickets are $20-$40, and are available by phone (773-761-4477) or online at PrintTixUSA.com (check for half-price tickets at Goldstar.com). More information at LifelineTheatre.com(Running time: 2 hours 30 minutes, includes an intermission)

Christopher M. Walsh, Robert Kauzlaric and Sarah Price in Lifeline Theatre's "Monstrous Regiment," adapted by Chris Hainsworth, directed by Kevin Theis. (photo credit: Kelsey Jorissen)

Photos by Kelsey Jorissen


     

artists

cast

Kim Boler (Tonker), Matt Engle (Zlobenian Captain, Lord Rust, Paul), Melissa Engle (Wazzer), John Ferrick (Cpl Strappi, Sgt. Towering, Gen. Froc), Robert Kauzlaric (Lt. Blouse), Katie McLean Hainsworth (Igor), Michaela Petro (Maladict), Sarah Price (Polly), Justine C. Turner (Carborundum), Christopher M. Walsh (Sgt. Jackrum), Mandy Walsh (Lofty), Alexandra Burch, Katie Campbell, Catherine Dughi, Kyle A. Gibson, Anthony Kayer (understudies)

behind the scenes

Kevin Theis (director), Becky Bishop (stage manager), Kitty Campbell (properties design, puppet assistant), Geoff Coates (fight director), Benjamin W. Dawson (production manager), Emily Dillard (asst director), Kevin D. Gawley (lighting design), Joanna Iwanicka (scenic design), Elise Kauzlaric (dialect coach), Emily McConnell (costume design), Christopher Kriz (original music, sound design), Kate Reed (asst stage manager), Joe Schermoly (technical director), Kelsey Jorissen (photos)

Sarah Price and Christopher M. Walsh in Lifeline Theatre's "Monstrous Regiment," adapted by Chris Hainsworth, directed by Kevin Theis. (photo credit: Kelsey Jorissen)

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Category: 2014 Reviews, Adaptation, Clint May, Lifeline Theatre, New Work, Video, World Premier

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