Lifeline Theatre Presents WHOSE BODY? Review - Dry Wit and Old Scars--a Highly Recommended Chicago Best Play Pick
Lifeline Theatre Returns to Limoncelli’s Sayers
It’s been ten years since Frances Limoncelli adapted Busman’s Honeymoon for the stage, but now Lifeline returns to Dorothy L. Sayers with Limoncelli’s 2002 adaptation of Sayers’ first novel, Whose Body?
When we first meet Lord Peter Wimsey, racing back to his posh living quarters to retrieve the auction catalog for a rare book sale, dressed to the nines in top hat and coat, he appears to be nothing more than a dandy, free from responsibility or care. This impression is only reinforced when his valet Mr. Bunter informs him that his mother the Duchess (Katie McLean Hainsworth) is on the telephone and he tries to wriggle out of answering. Only when she mentions the inexplicable appearance of a dead body wearing nothing but a pair of pince-nez in an acquaintance’s bathtub does a flash of curiosity, determination, and intrigue flash across his face, and we see that there is more to him than meets the eye.
Body Bewitches with Twists and Turns
Clad in Caitlin McLeod and Anna Wooden’s sumptuous costumes and speaking in a variety of British accents (or in the case of Joshua K. Harris’s J.P. Milligan, a Ditka-esque Chicago dialect) coached by Carrie Hardin, director Jess Hutchinson and her capable cast take us back to London, 1923. Mystery piles on mystery: upon consulting his friend Inspector Parker (John Drea) about the body in the bath, Wimsey learns that famous businessman Sir Reuben Levy (another acquaintance of his mother’s) has simultaneously gone missing.
As Wimsey, Bunter, and Parker investigate further, they encounter a wide range of colorful characters--and suspects. Who is the man in the tub? Did Sir Reuben abscond of his own accord, or was he abducted? Are the one fellow’s murder and the other’s disappearance connected? Each new clue and interview brings the cases into clearer focus, but Wimsey’s bursts of insight are counterbalanced by flashes of PTSD from his service in the Great War, represented by literal flashes of projections in the background. He may be a cheeky devil most of the time, but he is also haunted by his experiences.
In this writer's view, Limoncelli’s adaptation and Hutchinson’s direction pull off an impressive balance of levity and gravity. Though occasionally the actors converse with such passion and speed, and in such thick accents, that they become nearly incomprehensible to American ears, their performances are never less than splendid and bring the audience right into the action. All of this plays out on Alan Dohanue’s puzzle box of a stage, three well-appointed rooms at three separate levels, each of which doubles as at least two locations, with multiple staircases, hidden compartments, and more. This critic expects theater and mystery fans of all stripes will find Lifeline Theatre’s Whose Body? a jolly good time.
Note: This is now added to the Picture this Post round up of BEST PLAYS IN CHICAGO, where it will remain until the end of the run. Click here to read – Top Picks for Theater in Chicago NOW – Chicago Plays PICTURE THIS POST Loves
Frances Limoncelli (Adaptor)
Jess Hutchinson (Director)
William Anthony Sebastian Rose II (Lord Peter Wimsey)
Scott Danielson (Bunter/Dr. Grimbold)
Katie McLean Hainsworth (Duchess of Denver/Mrs. Thipps)
John Drea (Mr. Thipps/Inspector Parker)
Michaela Voit (Gladys Horrocks/Lady Swaffam/Slavic Woman/Lady Levy)
Joshua K. Harris (Sugg/J.P. Milligan/Piggott/Coroner)
Tony Bozzuto (Dr. Julian Freke/Bill Williams/Cummings)
Kyle Burch (Understudy)
Evan Cullinan (Understudy)
Alan Donahue (Scenic & Props Designer)
Diane D. Fairchild (Lighting Designer)
Caitlin McLeod (Co-Costume Designer)
Anna Wooden (Co-Costume Designer)
Stefanie M. Senior (Sound Designer)
Carrie Hardin (Voice & Dialect Coach)
Patrick Runfeldt (Dramaturg)
Sofia Fey (Stage Manager)
Morgan Gire (Asst. Stage Manager)
Jennifer McClendon (Production Manager)
Harrison Ornelas (Technical Director)
Sam Moryoussef (Master Electrician)
Now through Sunday, November 10
Thursdays at 7:30pm
Fridays at 7:30pm
Saturdays at 4:00pm & 8:00pm
Sundays at 4:00pm
Audio Description and Touch Tour:
Saturday, September 28
Touch tour at 2:30pm
Performance at 4:00pm
Sunday, September 29 at 4:00pm
Friday, October 25 at 7:30pm
Two hours with one intermission
6912 N. Glenwood Ave.
Chicago, IL 60626
Active and retired military personnel (with ID): $20.00
Student (with ID): $20.00
For full-priced tickets and ticket availability information visit the Lifeline’s website or call - (773) 761-4477
Photos by Suzanne Plunkett
Note: Picture This Post reviews are excerpted by Theatre in Chicago
About the Author:
Harold Jaffe is a poet, playwright, amateur trapeze artist, freelance greeting card designer, and now, unexpectedly, a theater critic. He earned a BS in Electrical and Computer Engineering at Olin College and since returning to Chicago has worked extensively with Cave Painting Theater Company and the late great Oracle Productions. His chapbook Perpetual Emotion Machine is now available at Women & Children First, and his reviews of shows around town are available right here.