Busman’s Honeymoon

May 1 – June 21, 2009
EXTENDED through July 26, 2009!!!

“Witty, smart and exquisitely toned, with enough self-awareness to freshen the genre without undermining its conventions”  –Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune
“Lifeline Theatre’s spirited comedy of newlywed manners and murder most vile”  –Hedy Weiss, Chicago Sun-Times
“Simply outstanding theater that should not be missed”  –Venus Zarris, Chicago Stage Review

Wedding bells have finally rung for amateur sleuth Lord Peter Wimsey and novelist Harriet Vane! But their quiet, country honeymoon becomes a farce full of eccentric locals, exploding chimneys and even a body found in the wine cellar. This inauspicious beginning begs the question – when life gets in the way, can love persevere? Peter Greenberg and Jenifer Tylerreturn in this sequel to the blockbuster hit Gaudy Night.

Recommended for ages 15 and older.

A world premiere based on the classic mystery by Dorothy L. Sayers 
Adapted by Frances Limoncelli 
Directed by Paul S. Holmquist

  • Adam Breske (Constable Sellon, May 1-June 21))

    Adam is returning to Lifeline after a successful turn in last fall’s production of The Picture of Dorian Gray. Originally from Virginia, Adam attended Virginia Tech. Other Chicago credits include Arms and the Manand Much Ado About Nothing (Oak Park Theatre Festival), The Private Lives of Eskimos (The Mill), and Earl the Vampire (Thunder and Lightning). Prior to moving to Chicago, Adam toured with the Hampstead Players, performing Shakespeare for children.

  • Peter Greenberg (Lord Peter Wimsey)

    Peter is delighted to return for his fourth attempt at Lord Peter Wimsey. Of the many roles he has performed at Lifeline over the years, favorites include Rochester in Jane Eyre, Fogg in Around the World in 80 Days, Tristram in The Talisman Ring, and a sheep. Peter has directed and adapted for the Lifeline stage, and he has acted extensively in regional theater. He also co-founded The Actors Shakespeare Company, a classically-based theater company in Albany, New York.

  • James E. Grote (Mr. Puffett)

    Jim returns to Lord Peter’s service after playing Bunter in Whose Body? in 2002. Jim has also appeared in Lifeline’s productions of Somebody Loves You, Mr. HatchLyle, Lyle, CrocodileThe Killer AngelsAround the World in 80 Days (Non-Equity Jeff Award: Outstanding Ensemble); and Johnny Tremain. Jim is also a playwright, and has adapted The Silver ChairThe Piano Tuner (After Dark Award: Outstanding Production); and Duck for President. Jim’s adaptation of Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type has been performed around the country–most recently at the Oregon and Dallas Children’s Theatres–and he is currently adapting a sequel, Dooby Dooby Moo, for Lifeline’s fall KidSeries show.

  • Chris Hainsworth (Mr. MacBride, July 18-26)

    Chris is pleased to be returning to the LifeLine stage where he last appeared as Oliver in Talking It Over. Recent credits include Sheriff Raven in Dreams in the Witch House with WildClaw, Robbie in Scenes from the Big Picture with Seanachaí, and Scotty in the After Dark Award winning Old Town with Strawdog, where he has been an ensemble member since 2000.

  • Kate Harris (Miss Twitterton)

    During the last 29 years, Ms. Harris has not only worked in Chicago, but also regionally with St. Louis Repertory Theatre, Play Makers Repertory Theatre, and Off-Broadway at The Duplex and The 29th Street Rep. Some of Kate’s past appearances in Chicago have been with The Hypocrites, Stage Left, Bailiwick Repertory, and Steppenwolf Theatre, where she appeared in the 2005 production of The Last of the Boys. Ms. Harris also proudly served as Artistic Director for nine years to the critically acclaimed Chicago theatre company Pyewacket. For Pyewacket, her favorite roles included Angela in Boom Town, the Governess in the original Chicago premiere of The Turn of the Screw (Non-Equity Jeff nomination: Outstanding Actress in a Principal Role), and Annie Wilkes in Misery (Non-Equity Jeff Award: Outstanding Actress in a Principal Role). Last spring she received a Non-Equity Jeff nomination for Outstanding Actress in a Supporting Role for Griffin Theatre’s production of The Constant Wife, directed by the delightful Paul Holmquist. As a writer, her adaptation of Francis Ford Coppola’s screenplay, The Conversation, opened off-Broadway last spring at 29th Street Rep.

  • Millicent Hurley (Mrs. Ruddle, May 1-July 5)

    Millie is very excited to be back on Lifeline’s stage after appearing in Tuck Everlasting over a decade ago! Millie was last seen as Constance in Lillian Hellman’s Autumn Garden at Eclipse Theatre. Before that she was seen in Seven Over Seven’s Production of Eat the Runt, where performing any one of eight characters at the drop of a hat was a great way to keep mentally fit, as well as physically challenged! Recent roles at Raven Theatre include Paulina in The Seagull, Gloria in Grace and Glorie, and Maggie in Dancing at Lughnasa, for which she won a Jeff Citation and an After Dark Award. Millie also has had the pleasure of working with Timeline Theatre, About Face Theatre, Chicago Children’s Theatre, The Goodman Theatre, Bare Bones Theatre, Griffin Theatre, Chicago Dramatists, Next Theatre, and Prop Theatre. She also pursues voice-over, commercial and film work.

  • Robert Kauzlaric (Frank Crutchley)

    Robert is a member of Lifeline’s artistic ensemble and is delighted to return to the world of Sayers after appearing in Strong Poison in 2004. Robert has performed in numerous other productions at Lifeline, including The Mark of Zorro (After Dark Award: Outstanding Production), The Killer AngelsThe Return of the King, and Around the World in 80 Days (Non-Equity Jeff Awards: Supporting Actor-Play and Ensemble). Other area credits include work with Seanachaí Theatre Co., Greasy Joan & Co., Strawdog Theatre, The Hypocrites, City Lit, Circle Theatre, Theatre at the Center, New American Theater, Lakeside Shakespeare Theatre, and the Illinois Shakespeare Festival.

  • Paul Myers (Reverend Goodacre)

    Paul returns to the Lifeline MainStage where he was previously seen in last season’s production of The Island of Dr. Moreau, and prior to that, both Johnny Tremain and The Talisman Ring (1995). Other theaters around town where he has worked include Pegasus, Theater Mir, The Side Project, Steep, and Raven.

  • David Skvarla (Superintendent Kirk)

    Dave is delighted to return to Lifeline, having previously appeared as James Vane (Elder) in The Picture of Dorian Gray and Winston Niles Rumfoord in The Sirens of Titan. Other favorite roles include co-fight director and Calico Jack Rackham on Backstage Theatre’s Bloody Bess, Morris Fishman (a.k.a. Billy Santucci) in Dirty Diamonds with Factory Theatre, and Barney Doran in John Bull’s Other Island and Bill Walker in Major Barbara at Shaw Chicago. Dave has also appeared with Oak Park Theatre Festival, Open Eye Productions, Open Cage Ensemble, Defiant, The Hypocrites, Mary-Arrchie, Rising Moon, & Careening Theatre, and has acted as fight director for most of the above, as well as Griffin Theatre, Infamous Commonwealth, Chase Park, and Trap Door.

  • Jonathan Stutzman (Constable Sellon, June 25-July 26)

    Jon is excited to be working with Lifeline theatre again. At Lifeline, Jon appeared in The Island of Dr. Moreau and Rikki Tikki Tavi. Jon has alo worked at numerous other theaters in Chicago including The Artistic Home, Griffin Theatre, Steep Theatre, Pegasus Players, Adventure Stage and the Side Project.

  • Phil Timberlake (Bunter)

    Phil appeared on the Lifeline stage as Prendick in The Island of Dr. Moreau(Non-Equity Jeff Award, Best Production), the Guru/Peppino in Queen Lucia: A Musical Romp (Non-Equity Jeff Nomination, Best Supporting Actor – Musical) and as Gollum/Legolas The Two Towers. He also coached dialects for Strong PoisonGaudy NightTalking It Over, and A Room With a View. Other Chicago acting credits include First Folio Shakespeare (The Tempest), Apple Tree (Violet), Powertap (The Beaux’ Stratagem) and Shaw Chicago (Misalliance). He is an Assistant Professor of Voice and Speech at the Theatre School, DePaul University. Phil joined the ensemble in 2006.

  • Jenifer Tyler (Harriet Vane)

    An ensemble member since 2001, Jenifer is delighted to be making her third appearance as Harriet Vane. Other Lifeline credits include: Mina in Dracula; Lydia in Pride and Prejudice; Kitty in Cotillion; Jane in Jane Eyre(for which she received a Jeff Citation for Outstanding Actress in a Principal Role); Ida/Phyllis in Trust Me On This; Bathsheba in Far From the Madding Crowd, and Harriet Vane in both Strong Poison and Gaudy Night.

  • Jean Vanier (Mrs. Ruddle, July 9-26)

    Jean is thrilled to make her debut with Lifeline Theatre. Her Chicago credits include Raven Theatre, Northlight Theatre, Remy Bumppo, Drury Lane South, National Past Time, and Illinois Shakespeare Festival. Regional credits are Tampa Bay Perforning Arts Center, Red Barn Theatre (Saugatuck, Michigan), Prather Theatre (Arizona and Florida), and Darden Theatre (Orlando). She also has an active print, commercial and industrial film career.

  • Christopher M. Walsh (Mr. MacBride, May 1-July 17)

    Christopher is thrilled to be in his second show with Lifeline Theatre, and his second with Mr. Paul S. Holmquist. Last fall he appeared in Lifeline’s The Mark of Zorro at the Theatre Building. Other recent credits include Camp Freedom! with Black Sheep Productions, Bloody Bess with BackStage Theatre, Journey’s End with Griffin Theatre, and The Hound of the Baskervilles with City Lit. Christopher has also provided stage combat choreography for several Jeff Recommended shows including In Arabia We’d All Be Kings for Steep Theatre, Faster for Side Project, and Emma for Trap Door.

  • Frances Limoncelli (Adaptor)

    Frances is proud to be a Lifeline ensemble member. As an adaptor, she created Lifeline’s popular Dorothy L. Sayers mysteries Whose Body?Strong Poison (Non-Equity Jeff Award: Adaptation) and Gaudy Night (Non-Equity Jeff Award: Adaptation). For Lifeline’s KidSeries, she adapted The Emperor’s Groovy New Clothes and Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch with composer/lyricist George Howe. She has also directed productions at Lifeline including Simple Jim And His Four Fabulous FriendsThe Story Of FerdinandMiss BiancaHalf MagicCooking with Lard and Queen Lucia: A Musical Romp. She has appeared in Lifeline’s productions of Pistols For TwoPrecious BanePinocchioBunnicula and Mrs. Piggle Wiggle (2000). Around Chicago, she has been seen onstage in Shear Madness at the Blackstone; The House Of Martin Guerre and Cry, The Beloved Country at the Goodman; Master Class at Northlight Theatre; Falsettos at Appletree Theatre; and Lifeline’s Pride And Prejudice for Chicago Theatres On The Air, to name a few. At Vermont’s Weston Playhouse she has played some of her favorite roles including Mary in Merrily We Roll Along, Emma Goldman in Ragtime, Carrie in Carousel, Fraulien Kost in Cabaret and Mrs. Montgomery in The Heiress. Frances graduated from the Boston Conservatory with a BFA in theatre performance and an emphasis in directing.

  • Paul S. Holmquist (Director)

    A Lifeline ensemble member since 2006, Paul directed Lifeline’s KidSeries productions of Rikki Tikki Tavi and Other Just So Stories and The Flight of the Dodo, as well as The Island of Dr. Moreau (winner of 5 Non-Equity Jeff Awards including Best Production-Play) for Lifeline’s 25th anniversary MainStage season. Paul is also a Griffin Theatre company member where he directed The Constant Wife and The Robber Bride Groom. As an actor, he has appeared on the Lifeline stage in Strong PoisonThe Talisman Ring (2005) and The Picture of Dorian Gray. He has worked as a movement consultant on Lifeline’s A Room with a View and on Griffin’s production of Stardust, both directed by Dorothy Milne. Paul holds a BFA in Acting from the Theatre School at DePaul University and a Graduate Laban Certificate in Movement Analysis from Columbia College Chicago, where he teaches and works.

  • Kimberly Percell (Stage Manager)

    Kimberly is happy to be working with Lifeline Theatre for the third time, having previously stage managed The Island of Dr. Moreau and The Picture of Dorian Gray for the MainStage. Other Chicago credits include The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui with Steep Theatre Company and Journey’s End with Griffin Theatre Company.

  • Mary Griswold (Set Designer)

    Mary has been a freelance designer and painter for over three decades. Some career high points have been running a follow spot as an apprentice at the Goodspeed Opera House for the pre-Broadway tryout of Man of La Mancha, touring in Europe and the US with the Organic Theater Company, where her first Chicago set design credit was for the premiere of David Mamet’s Sexual Perversity in Chicago (beginning a long time design collaboration with the late John Paoletti), and She Always Said Pablo at the Goodman and a subsequent engagement at the Kennedy Center, which won them (plus Geoffrey Bushor) three Joseph Jefferson awards, She has worked with a number of Chicago area theaters including Chicago Opera Theater, ATC, Live Bait, Court, Northlight and Victory Gardens

  • Brett Masteller (Sound Designer)

    Brett is a composer and sound designer. Currently a doctoral student in Music Technology at Northwestern University, he has been actively composing and designing for theatre since moving to Chicago in 2006. Brett holds a B.A. and M.A. in music composition from SUNY at Buffalo and now teaches at Northwestern University and the College of DuPage. His works have been performed in the U.S., Australia, and Spain.

  • Joanna Melville (Costume Designer)

    This is Joanna’s second design at Lifeline, where she also worked on the KidSeries production of Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle. Other Chicago credits include costume design for The Glass Menagerieand The Little Foxes (Shattered Globe Theatre); Little Shop of Horrors and Into The Woods(Quest Theatre Ensemble) and costume design assisting for Lookingglass and the British Stage Company. Other credits include Renaissance Theaterworks of Milwaukee, American Players Theatre, the Illinois Shakespeare Festival, and the Santa Fe Opera. Joanna is an alumna of Illinois State University (BA), and the University of Wisconsin-Madison (MFA).

  • Seth E. Reinick (Lighting Designer)

    Seth is very pleased to be lighting Busman’s Honeymoon with Lifeline Theatre. Other design work with Lifeline Theatre includes Flight of the Dodo and Snowflake Tim’s Big Holiday Adventure. Recent design projects include: Blue Surge with Eclipse Theatre, The Latino Theatre Festival 2008 in the Owen Theatre at the Goodman Theatre, Richard III & A Lie of the Mind with Strawdog Theatre Company. Seth was also Keith Parham’s associate lighting designer on Don’t Dress for Dinner at the Royal George Theatre. Recent assisting work includes Million Dollar Quartet, which is currently running at the Apollo Theatre; Shining CityA Christmas CarolPassion PlayMirror of the Invisible World, and Vigils at the Goodman Theatre.

  • Jenniffer J. Thusing (Props Designer)

    Jenniffer is thrilled to working again with the great folks of Lifeline. Her work was last seen in The Picture of Dorian Gray. Elsewhere, Jenniffer’s work can currently be seen in Altar Boyz at Noble Fool and Hope VI at Chicago Dramatists. She also serves as resident Stage Manager and props designer for Northbrook Theatre for Young Audiences. Jenniffer will be serving as Stage Manager for Light Opera Works upcoming My Fair Lady.

  • LaRonika Thomas (Dramaturg)

    LaRonika is delighted to return to Lifeline Theatre for Busman’s Honeymoon, having previously served as the production dramaturg on Strong Poison and Gaudy Night. A freelance dramaturg, LaRonika is also the regional VP for Metro Chicago for Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas (LMDA). An Indiana transplant, LaRonika has made Chicago her home for the past six years, moving here in the summer of 2003 to complete a dramaturgy internship at the Goodman Theatre. LaRonika is an ensemble member at Stage Left, where she was the producer of Stage Left’s week of 365 Days/365 Plays in 2007, directed several staged readings for them, and where she served as the Literary Manager from 2004 to 2007. In January of 2005, LaRonika was the recipient of an LMDA residency grant for her work with Stage Left. As a freelancer, she has worked around Chicago with such artists as Barbara Gaines and Greg Allen; and at the Goodman Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Writers’ Theatre, Neo-Futurists, Silk Road Theatre Project, Greasy Joan and Co., Chicago Dancemakers Forum, Stockyards Theatre Project, and Chicago Theatre for Young Audiences. LaRonika holds an M.A. in Theatre with a focus in Dramaturgy from Purdue University and a B.A. in Theatre and Anthropology from Indiana University, and she is a recipient of three CAAP grants for her individual work.

  • Elise Kauzlaric (Dialect Coach)

    Elise is a member of Lifeline’s artistic ensemble and directed Lifeline’s winter production of Mariette in Ecstasy. She has coached dialects for Lifeline’s productions of The Picture of Dorian GrayThe Mark of ZorroThe Island of Dr. MoreauThe Piano TunerJohnny TremainThe Killer AngelsThe Shadow and Trust Me on This. Other dialect coaching projects include The Birthday Party (Signal Ensemble); Angels in AmericaEquusand Henry V (the Hypocrites); and A Christmas CarolTo Kill a Mocking Bird and Cabaret(Metropolis Theatre).

  • Ian Zywica (Technical Director)

    Ian moved to Chicago about two years ago after completing his M.F.A. In addition to his position with Lifeline Theatre, he works as a freelance Scenic Designer and Technical Director, most recently for The Robber Bridegroom (Griffin Theatre), and the upcoming productions of Once On This Island (Porchlight Music Theatre) and The Last Barbecue (16th Street Theatre).

  • 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; Old TownRichard IIIAristocratsA Lie of the Mind,and Marathon ’33 and 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

Playwright, cast maintain just the right tone
May 13, 2009
By Hedy Weiss


The press is all abuzz in anticipation of the impending marriage of Lord Peter Wimsey, the upper-crust amateur detective and man of bachelor ways, to his formerly notorious bride, detective writer Harriet Vane. But this is one savvy couple, and the pair has every intention of eluding the media. Rather than heading for some posh hotel in Paris for a honeymoon, the Wimseys plan to enjoy a quiet getaway in their newly purchased old house in rural Hertfordshire.

Of course their best-laid plans go awry almost immediately in “Busman’s Honeymoon,” Lifeline Theatre’s spirited comedy of newlywed manners and murder most vile. And their travails become the audience’s delight as the previous owner of the house is found dead, the house is without a working heating system, the village eccentrics file through as suspects and bill collectors and the Wimseys’ honeymoon passion (palpable in that oh-so-English way) is continually disrupted.

This is Lifeline’s fourth production based on works of Dorothy L. Sayers, whose between-the-world-wars detective stories captured a period of rigid class lines and burgeoning feminism in Britain. Frances Limoncelli, the deft and witty adapter, has maintained the smart, drolly comic tone that defines these stories. So have actors Peter Greenberg (an ideal embodiment of Lord Peter, an aristocrat far deeper than he lets on) and Jenifer Tyler (a steely twig of a woman clearly altered by love).

There is a third person in the room much of the time, and he all but steals the show. He is Bunter, the loyal, ingenious and proper valet to Lord Peter, and he gets a show-stopping portrayal here by Phil Timberlake. Some of the more touching and deliciously played moments in “Busman’s Honeymoon” are those in which Harriet tries to figure out how to relate to Bunter without damaging the relationship between Lord Peter and his valet. But the best moment occurs when Bunter simply loses it (for a reason I will not give away).

Under Paul S. Holmquist’s fleet direction, there is zesty character work by Adam Breske, David Skvarla, Robert Kauzlaric, Kate Harris, Millicent Hurley, Christopher M. Walsh, James E. Grote and Paul Myers. Mary Griswold’s rustic set and Brett Masteller’s sound set the mood. Pour the port.



From the Chicago Tribune

Return of the proper English detective in Lifeline’s ‘Busman’s Honeymoon’
May 15, 2009
By Chris Jones

Precisely how a little theater in the throbbing, multicultural heart of Rogers Park became such a dab hand at the genteel and archaic form of English detective fiction, circa 1935, is, well, something of a mystery. But as Dorothy L. Sayers’ aristocratic detective Lord Peter Wimsey might say, there you have it, chaps and chapesses.

Jolly good for them. And jolly good for you, if you like classy whodunits of the droll and well-spoken kind.

Lifeline’s latest foray into the world of rambling old homes, rambling local eccentrics, dry-witted manservants, perfectly prepared port, well-brewed tea and dead bodies is “Busman’s Honeymoon.” This yarn is a sequel to “Gaudy Night,” wherein, even as he solved a tricky murder mystery, amateur sleuth Lord Peter became enamored of the charms of a moderately racy author of detective fiction by the name of Harriet Vane.

As the title of “Busman’s Honeymoon” (1937) aptly suggests, Lord Peter and Harriet have by now made their love official, in their rather geeky way. But wouldn’t you know it? Their honeymoon locale comes replete with a corpse in the wine cellar.

Actually, it takes a while for the body to show up, delaying excitement that came faster in the slightly superior “Gaudy Night.” But once the mystery is under way, this show ripples along in a most pleasing fashion.

Lifeline isn’t just trotting out a peer of “The Mousetrap.” All four of its Sayers productions (including “Strong Poison” in 2004 and “Whose Body?” in 2002) have been original adaptations by Frances Limoncelli, an unsung talent of the Chicago theater. They’re all excellent dramatizations — witty, smart and exquisitely toned, with enough self-awareness to freshen the genre without undermining its conventions.

Happily, Lifeline long ago found Peter Greenberg to play Lord Peter — a character whom Sayers reportedly described as landing somewhere between Bertie Wooster and Fred Astaire. Greenberg is closer to the former that the latter, but his English accent is close to perfect, and he pays attention to his fellow’s little insecurities, thus rounding out the character. The charming Jenifer Tyler, who first played Harriet in “Gaudy Night,” is back once again. She also has exactly the right balance of tone.

To their credit, director Paul S. Holmquist and his actors clearly understand that there’s certain complacency to aristocratic detectives. You see that here — the story isn’t spoofed but presented honestly with a surprisingly full subtext, revealing some of Sayers’ more troubling assumptions about class and gender.

Aside from the business of who killed the corpse (about which I will write nothing), most of the fun comes from the existence of an intimate triangle composed of Lord Peter, his moderne bride and his faithful manservant, Bunter (played with both simplicity and complexity by Phil Timberlake). It’s a strange setup, as all three of them know, but as Lord Peter observes, a man with faithful wife and faithful servant could never be said to lack for friends. If the many ways to parse that statement get you going, this is your show.



From the Chicago Reader

May 21, 2009
By Laura Molzahn

Adapter Frances Limoncelli says good-bye to a much-loved writer in this fourth and final of Lifeline’s plays based on Dorothy L. Sayers’s murder mysteries. Limoncelli’s finely honed her appreciation of the novelist’s wit and erudition over the course of the series; Paul S. Holmquist’s lovingly detailed staging does her script justice, lavishing attention on every look and gesture from Peter Greenberg as the lofty Lord Peter Wimsey, Jenifer Tyler as his brand-new bride, and Phil Timberlake as the fastidious valet. Their supercilious wit cloaks a deep care for others and highlights the cluelessness of the local bumpkins: a sweep protective of his chimneys, a cranky housekeeper, and a dithery church organist, also the niece of the deceased. The impeccable details include well-differentiated accents courtesy of dialect coach Elise Kauzlaric.



From Chicago Free Press

May 21, 2009
By Web Behrens

Cranking out yet another excellent production is what Lifeline does best, although you’re never sure where the company might take you. From the vivisection horrors of “The Island of Dr. Moreau” to the swashbuckling pulp of “The Mark of Zorro” to a convent’s tense spiritual divide in “Mariette in Ecstasy,” this seasoned Rogers Park ensemble seems to know no boundaries. Now they return to the soufflé-light blending of British wit and drawing-room mystery of Dorothy L. Sayers. Again adapted by Frances Limoncelli, it’s no surprise that “Busman’s Honeymoon” follows in its three predecessors’ successful footsteps.

Interestingly, this time around the plot focuses not on the mystery (a crime isn’t even discovered until well into the first act) but on the newlywed relationship of Lord Wimsey and Harriet Vane. Much the show’s joy comes from depicting this middle-aged bachelor’s confident yet delicately measured steps into all aspects of matrimonial companionship. (This is, after all, the veddy veddy proper world of 1930s England.) Heading up a typically strong ensemble, Peter Greenberg and Jenifer Tyler portray the central couple with suitably subtle passion and plenty of intellectual fire.

Director Paul S. Holmquist corrals a large cast, deftly staging a number of busy scenes across Mary Griswold’s smart two-tiered set. As they build towards the second-act reveal, we get fine supporting turns from Robert Kauzlaric, Millicent Hurley, Kate Harris and, most of all, Phil Timberlake (as the near-unflappable Bunter). The solution’s charm comes from the reveal that the crime had partly been executed before our very noses – but the play’s lasting punch comes from its unexpected but emotionally powerful coda, reminding us that murder is not really about entertainment.



From Windy City Times

May 20, 2009
By Mary Shen Barnidge

An aristocrat-turned-sleuth rescuing a mystery writer from a charge of murder is hardly “meeting cute,” but in 1930 Dorothy L. Sayers introduced Lord Peter Wimsey to Harriet Vane and, thus, was born one of the most romantic duos in detective fiction (or detectives in romantic fiction, if you prefer) . Lifeline Theatre reunited the couple in 2004 with its page-to-stage adaptation of Strong Poison, contracting the sweethearts’ engagement in 2006 with Gaudy Night and their subsequent marriage with this final installment in the trilogy.

We open with the high-profile newlyweds having evaded the paparazzi by eloping to a picturesque cottage in the English countryside. No sooner do they arrive, however, than the house’s previous tenant is found bludgeoned to death in the basement, leaving the flustered bride and groom to negotiate their post-nuptial accords while simultaneously tracking down a killer. But not for nothing did Sayers originally subtitle her narrative, “A Love Story with Detective Interruptions.” By the time we are finished, the culprit has been exposed and the marital commitment reaffirmed.

And all in a swiftly-paced two and a half hours, too. Frances Limoncelli’s tidy script proceeds smartly under Paul M. Holmquist’s brisk, but never overhurried, direction. Peter Greenberg and Jenifer Tyler reprise their roles as the worldly lovers, flanked by Phil Timberlake as their unflappable (well, almost unflappable) butler. Millicent Hurley and James E. Grote as sturdy bucolic tradespersons. David Skvarla and Adam Breske as the local constabulary. And Rob Kauzlaric, Kate Harris, Paul Myers and Christopher M. Walsh as assorted suspects. (Playgoers whose previous acquaintance with Lifeline’s stock company of actors leads them to anticipate the identity of the criminal are requested not to share their theories with fellow audience members.)

In the end, however, our reward is not just who dunit – although Sayers provides plenty of speculative motives and means before the puzzle is resolved – nor is it merely clever stagecraft (like the car headlights that signal the honeymooners’ covert arrival at their rural refuge), but the author’s ruminations on the forging of an ideal partnership between men and women desirous of such egalitarian relationships. As Lord Peter himself declares to Harriet and Bunter, “A man is rich in friends who has a good wife and a good servant, and I hope I may [never] give either of you cause to leave me” – a vow reflective of a literary genre invoking a universe substantially more orderly than our own.



From Chicago Stage Review

May 17, 2009
By Venus Zarris

Proving once again that they are the city’s adaptors extraordinaire, Lifeline Theatre closes its 26th season with the elegantly entertaining Busman’s Honeymoon. This is the fourth in a series of award-winning adaptations, by Frances Limoncelli, of Dorothy L. Sayers’ romantic Wimsey mysteries. Limoncelli is a genius at capturing the charm and playful intrigue of the original books and Lifeline is brilliant at bringing these adaptations to life.

This time the stylish story is set in a rustic country home, the honeymoon house for Lord Peter Wimsey and his lovely new bide Harriet. Although newlyweds, they have been in love for sometime and the tenderness that they share for each other is matched by their cleverness for solving a crime. The house is not quite up to spec for their nuptials though. It is easy enough to tidy up and change the sheets but the corpse in the basement requires a bit more attention!

Director Paul S. Holmquist tells a sharp story at a brisk pace with a sophisticated cast, striking the perfect balance between whodunit and love story with a generous helping of humor to ice this tasty cake. If period-piece murder mysteries are your fancy, you’ll be in heaven with Busman’s Honeymoon. Lifeline delivers a captivating construct of upper class detective dabbling.

The design elements are excellent but it is the picture perfect ensemble that really delivers the goods. Every character is created with exacting skill, resulting in a production that feels as good as it looks and sounds. Peter Greenberg (Lord Peter Wimsey) and Jenifer Tyler (Lady Harriet Wimsey) create a couples-chemistry that is heartwarming, cerebral, very British and splendid. Kate Harris is perfectly eccentric as Miss Twitterton But Phil Timberlake truly anchors the cast as Bunter, the butler. He creates an evocative character with remarkably subtle depth.

The reconstruction of the crime is good fun. There is excellent dramatic build to the criminal climax. And Busman’s Honeymoon succeeds at a stellar execution of two very different degrees and levels of drama, the murder mystery and the tender love story that prevails over complicated melancholy.

Lifeline proves that creating an episodic theatrical adventure, over the course of several plays, equals more character development. This pays off for the audience in ways that are both dramatically delicate and extraordinary. Busman’s Honeymoon is simply outstanding theater that should not be missed.



From Newcity

May 11, 2009
By Lisa Buscani

For a tiny island in the middle of a rough sea, England is so very dry, a dryness aptly demonstrated in Lifeline Theatre’s witty, intelligent “Busman’s Honeymoon.” The fourth in the “Lord Peter Wimsey, amateur sleuth” novels, this installment finds Lord Peter (Peter Greenberg), new wife Harriet (Jenifer Tyler) and ever-capable manservant Bunter (Phil Timberlake) honeymooning in their country house. Murder and mayhem ensue with all the stereotypical trappings: suspicious family members, disgruntled employees and a police constable who says “What’s all this, then?” Some things are clichés for good reason.

Reprising their roles, Greenberg and Tyler endow their characters with affection for each other and a good mystery. One difference: this story doesn’t stop with the catching of the killer. It follows Lord Peter through the trial and sentencing and shows the toll justice takes: the media frenzy, the execution. Who knew setting things right could feel so wrong?




From Centerstage

May 10, 2009
By Anna Pulley

Common wisdom dictates that marriage is a three-ring circus: engagement ring, wedding ring and suffering. And in the case of “Busman’s Honeymoon,” the 4th Lifeline Theatre play adapted from the novels of Dorothy L. Sayers, nothing rings more true than that. Amateur sleuth Lord Peter Wimsey (Peter Greenberg) and his murder-mystery novelist bride, Harriet Vane (Jenifer Tyler), escape to the country for what they assume will be a peaceful honeymoon away from the paparazzi, only to discover that the man who sold them their new house has been found in the cellar, murdered.

Steeped in delicious restraint, martini-dry humor and enough double entendres to make Oscar Wilde blush in his grave, “Busman’s Honeymoon” is a delightful, though abruptly anguished, romp through murder-mystery mayhem. A tension-filled cast of townies are the suspects of the mystery and provide an unruly mixture of sympathy and camp, of heartache and stereotype. From a rifle-toting Vicar to a chimney sweep who leads the cast in an impromptu church-choir song, “Busman’s Honeymoon” has more local color than a gay pride parade. At the center of it all is the relationship between Harriet and Peter, made instantly fragile by circumstance, but the two’s tenderness and rapport give the play a sense of intimacy amid the relentless whirligig of scandal and intrigue.

Once the case has been solved, the play takes an unexpected turn for the hearse. Wimsey’s guilt for condemning a man to hanging causes both he and Harriet much turmoil, which is a rather jarring turn away from the play’s quippy and comedic beginnings. Perhaps Wimsey’s actions make more sense to seasoned viewers/readers of Sayers’s work, but as it was, the sudden stoicism stunts the appealing, bookish energy generated throughout the play. That aside, “Busman’s Honeymoon” is a charming jaunt down whodunit lane. To dismiss it would be a crime of another sort.

, http://www.ovationtix.com/trs/cal/1371,