The Island of Dr. Moreau

October 12 – December 2, 2007

“Hugely ambitious, wildly physical, stunningly effective”  –Hedy Weiss, Chicago Sun-Times
“Remarkably spectacular… gutsy… [a] serious assault on the senses”  –Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune
“Taut, exciting and unforgettable”  –Catey Sullivan, Windy City Times


A shipwreck, a rescue and the shock of being marooned on a terrifying island – that’s just the beginning for Edward Prendick. Now, he is trapped in an impossibly brutal world by a twisted man of science, out to transform nature into a warped mirror of himself. And in the face of the ultimate horror, can Edward (or any of us) escape with humanity and reason intact? A thrilling and immersive tale that will unsettle the steeliest of nerves in a fluid and dynamic production.

Violent content, not appropriate for children under 14.

A world premiere based on the classic horror story by H.G. Wells 
Adapted by Robert Kauzlaric 
Directed by Paul S. Holmquist

  • Stacie Barra (She Who Knows Pain)

    Stacie is thrilled to be making her first appearance in a Lifeline production, and overjoyed to be working with Paul Holmquist again. Stacie was last seen as Marie-Louise in Griffin Theatre’s production of The Constant Wife. Her area credits include work with The Milwaukee Repertory Theater, The Factory Theater, Stockyards’ Theatre Project, and Chemically Imbalanced Comedy to name a few.

  • Tony Bozzuto (Davies, The Sayer of the Law)

    Tony is very happy to be working with Lifeline Theatre. A graduate of Wayne State University in Detroit, he has recently been seen as Mitch in A Streetcar Named Desire with Metropolis Performing Arts Center and Feste in Noble Fool Theatrical’s production of Twelfth Night. Tony is also a member of A Crew of Patches bringing First Folio Shakespeare to high school students. You can see Tony in How I Learned to Drive this winter with Backstage Theatre Co.

  • Joey Eovaldi (The Youngling)

    Joey was last seen at Lifeline as the Child in The Piano Tuner. Joey is seven years old and in the second grade. He participated in Lifeline’s KidsOnStage summer drama camp in 2006 and 2007, starting camp as one of its youngest actors. During the 2006 camp he participated in writing and performing an original myth about the origins of Chicago and in 2007 was the Monkey King in How the Squirrel Got its Stripes. He recently appeared in Where the Wild Things Are at his school.

  • Dan Hale (The Walker in Darkness)

    Dan recently received his MFA from the Theatre School at DePaul University, he has also had additional movement training at the Actors Gymnasium and Dell’Arte International. Around Chicago he has performed as Biondello in Chicago Shakespeare’s remount of The Taming of the Shrew (SS), and as a Fancolo family accordion player in CollaborAction’s Sketchbook ’06. This is Dan’s first production with Lifeline.

  • Sienna Harris (She Who Keeps the Young, The Puma)

    Sienna was seen last season as Judge Prudence in The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs! She has worked with Shaw Chicago, Collaboraction, Congo Square, Milwaukee Rep, American Players Theatre, Arkansas Repertory Theatre and Seattle Shakespeare Co. Sienna is a proud graduate of Cornish College of the Arts (Seattle) and The School at Steppenwolf.

  • Yosh Hayashi (Montgomery)

    Yosh was last seen here at Lifeline as The Man with One Story and Others in The Piano Tuner. His most recent roles include Leo Katz in Pentecost, his final show for The Theatre School at DePaul University where he received his Master of Fine Arts degree, Ranger Tom in the Chicago premiere of Jeff Daniel’s Escanaba in da Moonlight at Circle Theatre, and as Arturo Ui in Steep Theatre’s production of The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui directed by Jonathan Berry. He can be seen next in The Prisoner’s Dilemma for Theatre Mir.

  • Nicky Korba (The Youngling)

    Nicky is making his Lifeline Theatre debut. He recently appeared as Carter Nash in The Eulogist (Chicago Scriptworks/Bailiwick). Other stage credits include Blind School Child/Voice of Young Jimmy in The Miracle Worker at ArtCraft Theatre, The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus at Theatre-Hikes, and as Lollypop Kid in The Wizard of Oz. Nicky’s first commercial was for Town & Country Homes with Mike Ditka. He also won a Best Actor Award as Cade in the independent short film, 3:16 which played at the Estes Park Film Festival. Other film credits include The Small Assassin and Sins of the Father.

  • Paul Myers (The Jabbering One)

    Paul returns to Lifeline’s MainStage having last appeared in Johnny Tremain. He has also been fortunate enough to work in a number of Lifeline’s KidSeries productions, including The Velveteen Rabbit and Brave Potatoes. This past summer he performed in the Jeff Recommended Steep Theater production of The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui directed by Jonathan Berry. He performed extensively with Interplay Theater appearing in Habeas CorpusOnce In A While the Odd Thing HappensBreaking The CodeShadowlandsCurse of The PharaohPiafThe Living and The Royal Hunt of the Sun. He was an original member of the Econo Art Theater ensemble where he worked on a number of Joel Drake Johnson’s earlier plays. He also was fortunate enough to work with Edward Albee in the Touchstone Theater production of Tiny Alice in which he performed the role of Brother Julian.

  • Nigel Patterson (Moreau)

    Nigel is delighted to make his first appearance on the Lifeline stage. Other Chicago credits include The General from AmericaIt’s All True (Jeff nomination) and Pravda (Timeline), Dealer’s Choice and Judgment At Nuremberg (Shattered Globe), Tartuffe (Remy Bumppo), Pride And Prejudice (Northlight), A Tale of Two Cities (Steppenwolf), Detective Story (Strawdog), The Devil’s Disciple (Theo Ubique – Jeff nomination), The Countess (Gift Theatre) and The Last Of Mrs. Cheyney (Bailiwick). Recent roles in England include Mitch (A Streetcar Named Desire), the Prince of Wales (The Madness Of King George) and Henry VIII (A Man For All Seasons).

  • Tiffany Joy Ross (Bearer in Silence, The Gentle One)

    Tiffany is excited to join the wonderful people at Lifeline for the second time! Tiffany was last seen on the Lifeline stage as the understudy for The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs! As an ensemble member of Bruised Orange, Tiffany has appeared in Long Story ShortThe MisanthropeHistory of a HandgunBOTC:Spring Fling and BOTC:Femme Fatale which she also wrote and directed. Other Chicago credits include Limbo TalesAccelerando, and Vox Pandora with the Jeff-Nominated New Leaf Theatre. Tiffany has written several plays including FreaksA Gentle CreatureContrapposto, and A Bad, Bad Thing…. She is also a published poet. She holds a BFA in acting from Northern Illinois University.

  • Aaron Snook (Bearer in Silence, He That Fights Himself)

    Aaron is making his first appearance in a Lifeline production. His Chicago credits include Fool for LoveHamletCloserShe Stoops to ConquerSeascape (Jeff Citation nomination), Waiting for GodotCatch-22 and Much Ado About Nothing for Signal Ensemble, The Devil Inside for the Right Brain Project, and Only the Sound for Chicago Dramatists. He is a member and development director for Signal Ensemble and associate artist with Chicago Dramatists. Aaron has a double major in English and drama from Duke University and studied at ACT in San Francisco.

  • Jonathan Stutzman (The Watcher)

    Jonathan is excited to be working with Lifeline once again after appearing in Rikki Tikki Tavi and Other Just So Stories and a last-minute impromptu appearence in Johnny Tremain. Recent credits include The Resisitible Rise of Arturo Ui at Steep Theatre, Katzelmacher with the Side Project, and Dead End with Griffin theatre. Outside of Chicago, Jon has worked with the New Harmony Theatre in Indiana and the B Street Theatre in Sacramento, California.

  • Sean Sullivan (M'ling)

    Sean is making his Lifeline debut with this production of The Island of Dr. Moreau. He relocated to Chicago in 2002, after receiving his degree from Ohio State in 2000. He became an ensemble member with BackStage Theatre Co., appearing as Amundsem in Terra Nova, and Henry in The Skin of Our Teeth. Sean has also been seen as Floyd in Fiorello! And Joe Cardin in The Children’s Hour with Timeline Theatre. Sean works as a freelance designer and carpenter; and as a stagehand for Harpo Studios, Inc. When he’s not working, Sean loves playing Irish music with his band, One of the Girls.

  • Phil Timberlake (Prendick/Vocal Coach)

    Phil returns to Lifeline where he appeared as Peppino, the Guru, and others in Queen Lucia (Jeff Citation Nomination, Best Supporting Actor – Musical), as Gollum and Legolas in The Two Towers and coached dialects for Strong PoisonA Room with a View and Gaudy Night. In 2006, he joined the Lifeline Ensemble. Other Chicago acting credits include Apple Tree (Violet), First Folio Shakespeare (The Tempest), Powertap (The Beaux’ Stratagem), Shaw Chicago (Misalliance), City Lit (Playboy Stories), and Shakespeare’s Motley Crew (Twelfth NightMidsummer Night’s DreamKing Lear). Phil is an Assistant Professor of Voice and Speech at DePaul University.

  • Brian Kilborn (Understudy)

    Brian returns to Lifeline after understudying the rold of Freddy in A Room With a View. Brian is a Co-Founder of The Broken Compass where he most recently portrayed Darren in the Chicago Premiere of Mercury Fur. A graduate of the University of Chicago, where he earned a B.A. in Spanish Literature, Brian rekindled his interest in theatre during the latter half of his time at the university. Around Chicago he has performed with Azusa Productions, the side project, Bailiwick Repertory Theatre, Appetite Theatre, and Boxer Rebellion Theatre.

  • Lynette Morris (Understudy)

    Lynette is very excited to be working with Lifeline Theatre, and she is even more thrilled to be a part of The Island of Dr. Moreau. Lynette most recently appeared in the Griffin Theatre’s LETTERS HOME: Voices of American Soldiers from the Battlefields of Iraq, which will go on tour in October, and Dead End, also with the Griffin Theatre. Favorite roles include Cinderella in Into The Woods, Viola in Twelfth Night and Serafina della Rose in The Rose Tattoo.

  • Robert Kauzlaric (Adaptor)

    Robert is a Lifeline ensemble member. The Island of Dr. Moreau is his sixth theatrical adaptation and he is thrilled to see it come to life on the Lifeline stage. His adaptation of The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs! premiered in the 2006/07 Lifeline KidSeries, and will soon be produced in Minnesota and southern Illinois. Robert has appeared as an actor in nine Lifeline productions, most recently A Room with a View and The Talisman Ring, and served as Assistant Director for Johnny Tremain.

  • Paul S. Holmquist (Director)

    Paul joined the Lifeline ensemble last fall. He directed the KidSeries production of Rikki Tikki Tavi and Other Just So Stories and acted in Strong Poison and The Talisman Ring. Paul is also a Griffin company member where he recently directed The Constant Wife and has been seen there in the title role in Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging (Jeff Citation, Ensemble) among many others. Other acting in Chicago includes work with TimeLine, the Factory, Caffeine, ATC, and Shattered Globe. Paul is a graduate of The Theatre School at DePaul University and holds a Graduate Laban Certificate in Movement Analysis from Columbia College Chicago.

  • Kimberly Percell (Stage Manager)

    Kimberly is excited to be working on The Island of Dr. Moreau. It is her second production since she moved to Chicago in January. She previously worked on The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui at Steep Theatre, and her next project is Journey’s End at Griffin Theatre.

  • Tom Burch (Scenic Designer)

    Tom is thrilled to return to Lifeline where previous designs include The ShadowThe Sirens of Titan, and Strong Poison (After Dark Award). Other recent Chicago credits include touring productions of Taming of the ShrewMacbeth, and Comedy of Errors for Chicago Shakespeare; Bad DatesRed Herring, and The Good War at Northlight; Ellen Under Glass and Hatfield and McCoy for The House Theatre; and the pool-bound The Frogsfor Pegasus Players. He’s the recipient of 2 After Dark Awards, a Jeff Citation (for Pyewacket’s Misery) and the Michael Maggio Emerging Designer Award. Regional credits include shows at Williamstown Theatre Festival, Actors Theatre of Louisville and Peninsula Players, among others. Upcoming projects include the new touring Romeo and Juliet for CST, A Steady Rain at Chicago Dramatists, and shows for Piven, Strawdog, and ATC. He also teaches at the University of Chicago.

  • Victoria DeIorio (Original Music/Sound Designer)

    Victoria is an ensemble member at Lifeline Theatre and has designed sound for many shows including The Velveteen RabbitA Room with a ViewGaudy Night (Jeff Nomination), The Talisman RingThe Sirens of TitanA Long Way from ChicagoStrong PoisonThe Shadow (Jeff Citation), Far From the Madding Crowd, and Around the World in 80 Days(Jeff Citation). She also directed last season’s KidSeries production of The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs!. Victoria has worked with many Chicago and Regional theatre including Goodman Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre, Victory Gardens, Milwaukee Shakespeare, Milwaukee Chamber Theatre, LA Theatre Works, Northlight Theatre, Writers’ Theatre, The Next Theatre, Remy Bumppo, Rivendell Theatre Ensemble, and other storefront theatres in Chicago. Her Off-Broadway work includes Steppenwolf’s The Bluest Eyeat the Duke Theatre, and Ophelia at the Connelly. Victoria served as an Associate Designer for Off-Broadway Productions at Actor’s Studio, Primary Stages, Ensemble Studio Theatre, and Urban Stages. Victoria was nominated for 4, and received 2 Jeff Citations, and 2 After Dark Awards (The Shadow and Fiddler on the Roof). For more information visit

  • Kevin D. Gawley (Lighting Designer)

    Kevin is very excited to be working on The Island of Dr. Moreau. As a freelance lighting/scenic designer in Chicago, Kevin’s work has appeared on many Chicago stages, including Lifeline Theatre, where he won the Jeff Citation for his design of Jane Eyre, the After Dark Award for his design of Strong Poison, and has been an ensemble member and resident lighting designer since 2001. His work also appeared in numerous productions at the Bailiwick, Porchlight, Organic, OperaModa, Blindfaith, NSHI, Theatre on the Lake, Metropolis, StoreFront, Loyola University Chicago, Revels Chicago, Midwest Jewish and at the North Carolina Shakespeare Festival theatres. Kevin is currently the Lighting and Scenic design professor at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and has taught Lighting Design and Technology courses previously at Loyola University Chicago and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is also one of the resident designers at St. Scholastica Academy. Kevin holds an MFA and BFA in Lighting Design from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and an MBA in Finance from DePaul University.

  • John Henningsen (Props Designer)

    As a freelance artist in Chicago, John has worked as a stage manager, prop master, technical director, costume designer, house manager, lighting designer as well as actor, director, and producer. He has worked with Next Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Metropolis Performing Arts Center, Speaking Ring Theatre and many more. Currently he is the stage manager for Late Nite CatechismPut the Nuns in Charge and Sunday School Cinema at the Royal George Theatre. Originally from Salina, Kansas, John holds a BFA in Theatre from Emporia State University where he founded the Independent Freeform (I.F.) theatre and The Congress Street Theatre.

  • Kimberly G. Morris (Costume/Mask Designer)

    Kimberly is pleased to be working again with Lifeline where she previously designed Rikki Tikki Tavi and Other Just So Stories. Based in Chicago, she freelance designs and builds costume, wigs, makeup, props, puppets and special effects for numerous venues around the country such as the Noble Fool Theatricals, Shedd Aquarium, Stage Left Theatre, The Gift, Adler Planetarium, Lifeline Theatre, The Griffin Theater, Rivendell Theatre Ensemble, American Shakespeare Center (VA), Heritage Repertory Theatre (VA), Theatre West Virginia (WV), Denison University (OH), Virginia Commonwealth University (VA), and Tecumseh! (OH).

  • R&D Choreography (Violence Designers)

    Richard Gilbert and David Gregory form the violence design partnership of R&D Choreography. They are thrilled to be working with Lifeline again, having designed violence for The Piano TunerAround the World in 80 DaysTrust Me On ThisThe Silver Chair and Scary Home Companion. R&D was founded for the purpose of improving the power and effectiveness of Chicago area theatre through the art of violence design. The Island of Dr. Moreau marks R&D’s 125th collaborative production, and they have worked with dozens of area theatres, including About Face, Apple Tree, ATC, Azusa, Bailiwick, Blindfaith, Circle, First Folio, Griffin, National Pastime, New American Theatre, Piven, Profiles, Shakespeare’s Motley Crew, and Trapdoor.

  • Tim Hill (Assistant Sound Designer)

    Tim is very happy to return to Lifeline Theatre where past sound designs include The True Story of The 3 Little Pigs! and The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales. Other Chicago sound designs include productions with Stage Left, The Neo-Futurists, Tireswing, Chicago Actors Wordshop, and Irish Repertory, along with several community and school musical theatre projects. Founding member of multimedia groups Anti-Roadtrip Alliance and ARTA Films.

  • Stephen T. Sorenson (Assistant Lighting Designer)

    Steven is thrilled to make his debut at Lifeline Theatre. Stephen’s Chicago area design work has been seen at Northwestern University, where he recently completed coursework toward his MFA, and includes Cymbeline, directed by Mary Zimmermann, Holiday, directed by Shawn Douglass, and Madame Bovary, directed by Paul Edwards. Stephen has also served as an Assistant Lighting Designer for Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, Florentine Opera, Cincinnati Opera, and Kentucky Opera.

  • Elise Kauzlaric (Dialect Coach)

    Elise is happy to be coaching for Lifeline again having coached past productions of The Piano TunerJohnny TremainThe Killer AngelsThe Shadow and Trust Me on This. She is also a member of Lifeline’s artistic ensemble. Other dialect coaching projects include Angels in AmericaEquus and Henry V (the Hypocrites); Wintertime (Reverie) and A Christmas CarolTo Kill a Mocking Bird and Cabaret (Metropolis Theatre).

  • Charlie "Ziggy" Olson (Technical Director)

    Charlie is both a technician and an actor around Chicago. This production marks his second year with Lifeline, but he also works with Chicago Shakespeare, CitLit Theatre and has done stints at A Red Orchid Theater, BobKat Productions, Designlab, Spingloaded Theater and New World Repertory. Onstage, he recently appeared in Killing Women with Theatre Seven where he is also a company member.

  • Cortney Hurley (Production Manager)

    Cortney is excited to be working with Lifeline Theatre again for the 07/08 season. Previous and current production management positions include Ellen Under Glass for the House Theatre of Chicago; One False Note with Plasticene; Creole with InFusion Theatre; Marathon ’33A Lie of the Mind, and Aristocrats with Strawdog Theatre, where she is the mainstage production manager; as well as the Assistant Production Manager at Theater on the Lake for the last 4 years. During the school year Cortney can be found at St. Scholastica Academy, where she has been the resident designer (scenery and lighting) and technical theatre instructor/director for the last nine years.

From the Chicago Sun-Times

Lifeline’s silver starts with gold
‘Dr. Moreau’ is a fitting opener for cutting-edge company’s 25th
October 24, 2007
By Hedy Weiss

Highly Recommended

It was not just science fiction that H.G. Wells was writing when he penned his novel The Island of Dr. Moreau. Rather, Wells’ 1896 book delivered a blistering attack on colonialism, a fascinating meditation on Darwin’s still new theories, and a prophetic look at eugenics (the science of “improving” on hereditary traits). In addition, the book was a fiery indictment of Victorian English values, and the uses to which religion, democracy, the law and punishment could be put. Deeply questioning of what constitutes civilization, Wells also mused on the question of what separates men from beasts.

All these themes, plus enough ghoulish theatricality for a lifetime of Halloweens, are in play in the hugely ambitious, wildly physical, stunningly effective 90-minute stage version of Wells’ story that opened Monday at Lifeline Theatre — the initial production in this most engaging company’s 25th season. But look more closely at the production — adapted with wit and intelligence by Robert Kauzlaric and ingeniously directed by Paul S. Holmquist — and you quickly sense the intensely contemporary political subtext at work here, too. Britain was the superpower of the late 19th century, but the United States holds that title now, and our role on the global stage, particularly in “developing societies,” is grist for this show’s mill, as are images from Abu Ghraib, the Iraqi prison.

The story that unspools in flashback in “Dr. Moreau” is not all that different from the one told by Joseph Conrad in Heart of Darkness, published just a few years later. Edward Prendick (an ideally soul-broken Phil Timberlake) is a mild-mannered scientist who, on his voyage home to London after an expedition to Peru to study butterflies, becomes the lone survivor of a shipwreck. Rescued by another Englishman and former medical student, Montgomery (a perfectly debauched Yosh Hayashi), he is taken to a remote Pacific island where Moreau (a wonderfully cold-blooded Nigel Patterson), already notorious for his bizarre experiments at home, freely runs his demonic lab.

The goal at Moreau’s hellish, pain-inflicting lab? Perfect the animal kingdom by turning wild creatures into humanlike specimens. (Clearly this is a metaphor for colonialists’ claims they were improving the lot of the “backward peoples” they conquered and brutally subjugated.)

Moreau’s man-beasts, who have lost all sense of identity, arrive onstage in a marvelous hybrid of fur and human attire, the creations of masterful costume and mask designer Kimberly G. Morris. A large ensemble, including Sean Sullivan (marvelous as the gentle giant, M’Ling, half-bear, half-ox), Tony Bozzuto, Tiffany Joy Ross, Aaron Snook, Paul Myers, Stacie Barra, Dan Hale, Sienna Harris and Jonathan Stutzman all help put “The Planet of the Apes” to shame.

Tom Burch’s fantastical ship-and-shore set, Kevin D. Gawley’s stormy lights and Victoria DeIorio’s rousing music richly enhance this harrowing voyage.



From the Daily Herald

‘Moreau’ production completely engrossing
October 25, 2007
By Barbara Vitello

Lifeline Theatre may not deliver spectacle on the scale of that found in Chicago’s theater district, but the talented ensemble never fails to impress. And in many ways, smaller scale notwithstanding, its artistry rivals that of its better financed downtown counterparts. Case in point: its chilling production of H.G. Wells’ “The Island of Dr. Moreau.”

Working out of a small Rogers Park theater, on a modest budget, Lifeline delivers a bold, adrenaline-fueled adaptation of Wells’ tale of shipwrecked lepidopterologist Edward Prendick (a pallid Phil Timberlake, compelling as a reasonable man driven beyond reason) transformed by his encounter with evil masquerading as enlightenment.

Having survived days adrift at sea and a rescue ship crewed by brutish sailors led by a merciless captain (Tony Bozzuto), Prendick finds himself on a remote island inhabited by Montgomery (fine work by Yosh Hayashi as the sardonic, self-loathing former physician) assistant to the disgraced Dr. Moreau (a disturbingly dispassionate Nigel Patterson). After news of his vivisection experiments forced him into exile, Moreau retreated to an island. Resuming his experiments to accelerate evolution and create a new species, he has populated his anti-utopia with a grotesque menagerie of human-beast hybrids, who he presides over like a god, demanding obedience to laws contrary to the fundamental nature of the beasts.

Sean Sullivan’s affecting turn as the loyal hybrid M’Ling, and Paul Myers’ manic Jabbering One deserve mention, along with the rest of the ensemble consisting of Dan Hale, Sienna Harris, Lynette Morris (substituting for Stacie Barra at Saturday’s press performance), Tiffany Joy Ross, Aaron Snook and Jonathan Stutzman.

Astutely directed by Paul S. Holmquist and adapted by Robert Kauzlaric — who condenses the disturbing 1896 novel into a tense 90 minutes — Lifeline’s production is a superior bit of seasonally appropriate theater that manages to both chill the spine and stimulate the mind.

The philosophical debates between Prendick and Moreau border on the pedantic, but Kauzlaric’s streamlined narrative is sound. As for the production’s look, let’s just say Lifeline accomplishes remarkable things within its confined space. Tom Burch’s arresting set morphs seamlessly from 19th-century schooner to a profane Eden made more menacing by Kevin D. Gawley’s murky lighting and Victoria Delorio’s unsettling sound effects and primal music, whose wailing violins and frenzied flutes recall the island’s unfortunate inhabitants. Add to that Kimberly G. Morris’ fantastical masks and costumes, and you have a show that grabs you and refuses to let go.

A gripping combination of tension and bombast, “Moreau” makes for engrossing theater and a shrewd cautionary tale about what happens when science outpaces morality; progress takes priority over principles; and outsiders impose order at the point of gun upon a community they don’t understand. In that respect, “The Island of Dr. Moreau” remains as scathing a social critique today as it did a century ago.



From the Windy City Times

The Island of Dr. Moreau
October 31, 2007
By Catey Sullivan

The fuzzy and fanged beasties that claw and growl their way through the Island of Dr. Moreau in Lifeline Theatre’s adaptation of H.G. Wells alarming classic are among the season’s more amazing feats of stagecraft. Designed by Kimberly G. Morris, they’re supreme examples of innovation, intelligence and theatricality. And they may be too good for the bloody drama’s own good: These creatures are so realistic that when the good doctor starts slicing them open sans anesthesia, The Island of Dr. Moreau becomes a distressing place to be indeed.

Vivisection as a medical concept is one thing. Viewed under an unflinching glare as it’s practiced on a splayed and wailing puma, it’s emotionally dismaying even if one knows intellectually that the puma is really an actor who most likely remains unharmed in director Paul S. Holmquist’s appropriately shocking interpretation of a shocking tale.

The Island of Dr. Moreau is a sprawling sci-fi horror story, launched with a violent storm, a ship dashed to splinters and a butterfly collector cast adrift somewhere between Peru and the rest of the world. It travels to the perilous cliffs and foreboding caves of the title island and across the seas to the London of Jack the Ripper and the Elephant Man. In all, it’s a multi-tentacled morass of a story: Adaptor Robert Kauzlaric deserves mighty credit for honing it to a vivid 90 minutes without compromising the narrative. Yet its very bloodthirstiness – without which Wells’ story would be gutted – makes Moreau difficult to take.

At its grisly heart is Dr. Moreau ( Nigel Patterson, ruthless, monomaniacal and as fiendishly attractive as Sweeney Todd’s long-lost brother ) , a fellow with plays God, cracking “the bullwhip of evolution” by slicing open animals and reconfiguring them as quasi-human. ( The key difference between the two: “An animal may be cunning and ferocious, but it takes a real man to tell a lie.” ) In one astounding scene, Moreau embarks on a bit of self-surgery, slowly driving what appears a foot-long syringe into his arm. It so looks ferociously real, skin slowly bulging over the burrowing needle, that one hopes Patterson had a tetanus shot as part of his compensation package.

In less flashy but no less valuable roles are Phil Timberlake as the gaunt, ghost-eyed butterfly collector who eventually leaves the island but will never truly escape it and Yosh Hayashi as a dissolute, wry and ancient-before-his-time soul whose only relief comes from quoting Shakespeare and blackout drinking.

Moreau is taut, exciting and unforgettable. But if you’re the sort who goes soft at the thought of animal experimentation or homeless pets, you might want to take your ticket money and make a donation to PETA instead.



From Chicago Free Press

The Island of Dr. Moreau
October 31, 2007
By Lawrence Bommer

Amid all the horrors unleashed in this Halloween-ready tale of terror, there’s a stunning discovery–how relevant H.G. Wells’ melodramatic, Victorian-era cautionary tale is to 2007. Wells knew nothing of bio-engineering, or gene splicing of recombinant DNA, but this scary story of a mad scientist on a tropical island who considers himself the ultimate agent of evolution is warning enough for three centuries. Retold with a passion that never congeals into camp, Robert Kauzlaric’s adaptation, powerfully portrayed in Paul S. Holmquist’s Lifeline Theatre world premiere, offers 90 minutes of thoughtful fright.

Our soul-shocked narrator is a butterfly collector named Edward Prendick (Phil Timerlake in a state of understandable hysteria). He attempts to explain how “terror is a disease” (one, we know, that an entire nation can catch to the detriment of their civil liberties). Prendick’s immersion in sheer fear occurs when he’s shipwrecked, rescued and transported to a “biological station” run by Dr. Moreau, a London physician exiled because of his cruel experiments on laboratory animals. Reviling scientists as “useless God killers,” the sailors abandon Prendick to his fate on an isle visited only once a year by a supply ship.

With an entire realm of innocent fauna at his cruel disposal (giving a new meaning to “Animal Farm”), whip-cracking Moreau (Nigel Patterson, revelling in declamatory British acting) busily employs surgical grafts too horrible to contemplate as he transforms beasts to men (rather than, as Prendrick naturally surmises, men to beasts). Shaping their larynxes so they can speak, this early eugenicist teaches them The Law (Never go on four legs, eat flesh or scrape bark from trees). In Moreau’s “House of Pain” he plays God, advancing an “evil-ution” that becomes an anthropomorphic nightmare of escalating violence. He’s aided by his Shakespeare-spouting assistant, Montgomery (Yosh Hayashi, an eager Igor to Moreau’s Frankenstein). Together they intend to upgrade animals into humans, a questionable improvement at best. But instinct will out: Moreau must contend with a reversion to type that ends his experiment in an eruption of bestial revenge. (I love how the animals’ chant of “We Are Men” turns into a much more menacing “We Are Many.”)

What’s curiously endearing about this neo-Faustian tale of human presumption in co-opting and corrupting natural selection is not the portrait of social Darwinism gone apeshit. It’s the power of these human hybrids, oddly moving in Kimberly G. Morris’ marvelous masks and costumes, to touch us. Morphed into semi-humans, these botched apes, sheep, pumas, and bears are marvelous creations, whether as theater and literature, reason enough to see this enormously entertaining blast from the past.