Based on the novel by Neil Gaiman
Adapted by Robert Kauzlaric
Directed by Paul S. Holmquist
At Lifeline Theatre
Fascinating adaptation of Neverwhere is spellbinding entertainment
The creative artists at Lifeline Theatre present another wildly engaging adaptation of a novel. This time adapter Robert Kauzlaric and director Paul S. Holmquist have chosen the 1996 urban fantasy novel (and TV mini-series) by British novelist Neil Gaiman, Neverwhere. The last time Kauzlaric and Holmquist collaborated with The Island of Dr. Moreau, they gathered 5 Jeff Awards. They have another technically challenging show with Neverwhere. Unique sets (by Alan Donahue), provocative lighting (by Kevin D. Gawley) with eerie sound (by Mikhail Fiskel) together with wild costumes (by Elizabeth Powell Wislar) and special puppets (by Kimberly G. Morris) made for a wonderfully vivid and scary production. London’s Underbelly comes to life.
When Scottish businessman Richard Mayhew (a solid performance sporting a genuine Scottish accent by Robert Kauzlaric) stops on a London street to care for an injured girl, he is drawn into a world he never knew existed – a shadow world beneath the city of London. This urban fantasy is a “quest story” that finds an average guy struggling on an epic journey to fight off evil in an attempt to live out his wildest dreams and desires.
Once in “London Below,” a magical realm coexisting with the more familiar London, referred to as “London Above,” Richard encounters an assortment of weird characters mostly invisible to those “Above.” Richard learns that everything he had Above London no longer exists and that he must perform the quest for the key in order to get his world back. His allies include Door (Katie McLean), a noble woman who possesses her family’s innate ability to “open” things. Hunter (Kyra Morris), whose lifelong obsession is to slay the Great Beast of London. Lastly, there is The Marquis de Carabas (Chris Hainsworth) – The Marquis is arrogant, cunning and very self-confident. Each of these allies journey to complete their own personal quest.
They are opposed by evil ones led by a pair of assassins : Mr. Croup (Sean Sinitski in a delicious turn) – the talkative half of the pair and Mr. Vandemar (Christopher M. Walsh) – dull-witted, strong mean assassin among other liars and outcasts.
The London Below is inhabited by large rats, Old Bailey (Patrick Blashill) dressed in feathers, Lamia (Elise Kuzlaric) dressed in dark velvet, who “suck the warmth” from their victims and the Angel Islington who failed to watch over the city of Atlantis.
Richard must deal with countless trials on his journey to uncover the truth behind a dark conspiracy. The action is manic as it necessitates fighting the Great Beast and out witting the two assassins while overcoming one’s fears. This mayhem quest is filled with action, humor, stellar combat and scary moments. You’d be hard pressed to find a finer tech elements or better performances than from this ensemble. The eight players – Patrick Blashill, Chris Hainsworth, Elise Kauzlaric, Robert Kuzlaric, Katie McLean, Kyra Morris, Sean Sinitski, Phil Timberlake and Christopher M. Walsh – each contributed quick costume changes and expert character portrayals giving the show a large cast feel. Terrific accents (kudos to dialect coach Eva Breneman) and fine stage combat thrilled us. Neverwhere is an adventure into the world of urban fantasy well worth experiencing. See Richard awaken the hero within. You’ll have fun along the way.
Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast
Date Reviewed: May 9, 2010
At Lifeline Theatre, 6912 N. Glenwood, Chicago, IL, call 773-761-4477, www.lifelinetheatre.com, tickets $30, $25 seniors, $15 students and rush tickets, Thursdays & Fridays at 7:30 pm. Saturdays at 4 & 8 pm, Sundays at 4 pm, running time is 2 hours, 35 minutes with intermission, through July 18+, 2010