The City & The City

February 15-April 7, 2013
(Thu & Fri at 7:30pm, Sat at 4pm & 8pm, Sun at 4pm)

“An enjoyable potboiler with a unique twist, The City & the City is a great place to visit.”  –Time Out Chicago

“It comes together beautifully for a dramatic and satisfying climax… you’ll find yourself immersed in a tale that will satisfy both mystery and science fiction buffs.”  –Stage and Cinema

“A political murder mystery novel brought to the stage with panache and dark seriousness, as well as remarkable clarity”  –Chicago on the aisle

Inspector Tyador Borlú of the Extreme Crime Squad is assigned to a seemingly open-and-shut case: an American student found dead in the gutters of the city of Beszel. But soon this deceptively simple crime reveals ties to powerful political and corporate factions at the heart of both Beszel and its twin city, Ul Qoma. Forced to cross the divide between two city-states coexisting in the same geographical space yet separated by irreconcilable cultural differences, Borlú must bring to justice the mastermind of the most unusual and dangerous case of his career. A thrilling crime story set in a location both fantastical and eerily real, in a world premiere adaptation.Based on the novel by China Miéville
Adapted by Christopher M. Walsh
Directed by Dorothy Milne


Lifeline Theatre welcomes China Miéville on Saturday, March 16th for a book signing event in our lobby at 7pm, (following shortly after the 4pm performance), and a conversation with the audience, cast, and production team immediately following the 8pm performance. The book signing and talkbacks are free events and copies of The City & The City will be on sale.

China Miéville is the author of several books, including RailseaUn Lun DunPerdido Street StationThe City & The CityKraken, and Embassytown. His works have won the Hugo, the British Science Fiction Award (twice), the Arthur C. Clarke Award (three times), and the World Fantasy Award. He recently moved from London to Chicago.

Highlights from The City & The City. Music by Christopher Kriz. 

  • Don Bender (Mr. Geary, Ashil)

    Don was last seen as Frederick Fairlie in Lifeline’s production of The Woman in White. Previously at Lifeline, he appeared in Pride and PrejudiceThe Count of Monte CristoThe Picture of Dorian Gray, and The Mark of Zorro. Other recent credits include Frost/Nixon (TimeLine Theatre), Dancing at Lughnasa (Seanachaí Theatre Company), The Little Foxes(Shattered Globe Theatre), Our Enemies (Silk Road Rising), One Fine Day(Stage Left Theatre), and The Night Season (Vitalist Theatre). He received a Joseph Jefferson Nomination for his performance in City Lit’s production of Old Times. Over the course of the last 25 years he has worked with such companies as Writers Theatre, Next Theatre, American Blues Theatre, Circle Theatre, The Hypocrites, and many others.

  • Patrick Blashill (Shukman, Syedr, Bowden)

    Patrick has been an ensemble member with Lifeline since 1996 and has been performing at Lifeline since 1994’s Miss Bianca, where he played Bernard the mouse. Other favorite Lifeline roles include Old Bailey and the Earl in Neverwhere, Edgar Drake in The Piano Tuner (After Dark Award: Outstanding Performance), Victor in Lizard Music, Hugh Thane in The Talisman Ring, Tom in Pistols for Two (Non-Equity Jeff nomination: Ensemble), Ferdinand the Bull in The Story of Ferdinand, the Mighty Gorilla in The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death (remounted for Chicago Theatre on the Air with guest star Brent Spiner), and Bunter in Strong Poison (Non-Equity Jeff nomination: Ensemble). He is especially proud to have acted in all three of Lifeline’s Lord of the Rings trilogy that spanned The Fellowship of the Ring (Bilbo Baggins), The Two Towers (Frodo Baggins), and The Return of the King (Frodo Baggins). Patrick has worked with numerous other Chicago theatres, including Eclipse Theatre (Long Days Journey into Night), Theatre Mir (The Sea), Backstage Theatre Company (A Number), Filament Theatre (Eurydice), Griffin Theatre (Journey’s End), and Reverie Theatre (Emma).

  • Bryson Engelen (Jaris, Yorjavic, Samun)

    Bryson is pleased to be working with Lifeline for the fifth time. Previous Lifeline work includes Watership DownCrossing CaliforniaA Room With A View, and Johnny Tremain. This past fall he worked with WildClaw Theatre on Life of Death at the DCA Theater. The fall before that he was at the DCA as well in the title role of Peer Gynt with Polarity Ensemble. He was part of the Non-Equity Jeff Award-winning ensemble of 12 Angry Men at Raven, and has worked with Shattered Globe in The Little Foxes and A Taste of Honey. Other roles include Paul in Signal Ensemble’s Six Degrees of Separation, Kitchin in the side project’s Faster, and Damon in Theater Wit’s Men of Steel. Other Chicago theaters he has worked with include Silk Road Rising, Chicago Dramatists, Stage Left, About Face, Eclipse, Oracle, Collaboraction, Strawdog, Piven, and the Free Associates. Bryson is a graduate of the University of Chicago.

  • Chris Hainsworth (Dhatt)

    A Lifeline Ensemble member since 2010, Chris was last seen on the Lifeline stage as Edmond Dantes in The Count of Monte Cristo. He also adapted last season’s winter MainStage production of Hunger. Previous Lifeline credits include Oliver in Talking It Over, Israel Hands in Treasure Island, and The Marquis de Carabas in Neverwhere. Other roles around town include Frank in Faith Healer with Uma Productions, Robbie in Scenes From the Big Picture with Seanachaí Theatre and many roles at Strawdog where he is an Ensemble Emeritus. His next appearance will be as Athos in Lifeline’s The Three Musketeersin Spring of 2013.

  • Marsha Harman (Corwi)

    Marsha is delighted to make her first appearance on the Lifeline MainStage, having understudied for The Woman in White last fall, and performed in The Stinky Cheese Man as part of the KidSeries in 2006. As a company member with New Leaf Theatre, she appeared in ArcadiaBurying Miss AmericaSix Years, and the Jeff-nominated ensembles of As it is in HeavenThe Permanent Way, and The Dining Room. She has also performed with the Plagiarists and WNEP and told stories at SKALD, The Moth StorySlams, and This Much Is True.

  • Jonathan Helvey (Drodin, Aikam, Unif Boy)

    Jonathan is thrilled to be back at Lifeline, where he was last seen in The 13 Clocks and The Mark of Zorro. His past credits include Chicago Shakespeare Theater (Romeo and JulietTwelfth Night); Timeline Theatre (Wasteland); MPAACT Theatre (Ghosts of Atwood); Red Tape Theatre (Prom Night); Rogers Park Theatre (The Shape of Things); Point of Contention’s Chaos Festival, Chicago Dramatists, Pride Film and Plays, Transit 5 Cincinnati (Is There Life After High SchoolCloud Tectonics); and Clear Stage Cincinnati (Rumpelstiltskin). Film credits include (Delusion) By Larry Cohen. Jonathan has his BFA in acting from Chicago College of Performing Arts; Roosevelt University.

  • Millicent Hurley (Mrs. Geary, Nancy)

    Millie is delighted to be back at Lifeline after having played the role of Mrs. Ruddle in Busman’s Honeymoon. She was last seen as Officer Randy Osteen in Superior Donuts at Mary-Arrchie Theater. She played Gram/Mrs. Partridge in Adventure Stage’s Walk Two Moons, Agnes in A Delicate Balance, and Lettice (Non-Equity Jeff Nomination for Principle Actress) in Lettice and Lovage at Redtwist Theatre. At Raven Theatre, her role as Maggie in Dancing at Lughnasa garnered her a Non-Equity Jeff Award and After Dark Award for Best Supporting Actress. Millie is an artistic associate of Erasing the Distance Theatre Company and pursues voice over, commercial and film work.

  • Volen Iliev (Naustin, Buric)

    Volen is thrilled to be working with Lifeline Theatre for the first time. He most recently appeared in WAFF Theatre’s The Reckless Ruthless Brutal Charge Of It or The Train Play. Other Chicago credits include: understudying In Darfur (TimeLine Theatre), The Trojan Women Project(Rivendell Theatre), Fresh Eyes Project (Red Tape Theatre), North Star(Chemically Imbalanced Theatre), and Let X (Nothing Special Productions). He was also the lead of the short film Dispatch, which has been selected to screen at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. Volen received his BFA in Acting from the University of Illinois.

  • Steve Schine (Borlu)

    Steve makes his Lifeline Theater debut with The City & The City. He is an Artistic Associate with A Red Orchid Theater, where he appeared in the Midwest premiere of Louis Slotin Sonata, the American premiere of Gagarin Way, the world premiere of Brett Neveu’s The Earl, and Hunger and Thirst, directed by Michael Shannon. Other Chicago credits include: King Lear, featuring Stacy Keach (Goodman); The Cider House RulesA Going Concern, and Hellcab (Famous Door); Three Sisters (Strawdog); It’s a Wonderful Life(ATC); Othello (Journeymen); and Mad Forrest and Rosa Lublin (Piven), among others. Regional: Romeo and JulietTwo Gentlemen of VeronaTwelfth Night, and Julius Caesar(Lakeside Shakespeare) and It’s a Wonderful Life (Clarence Brown Theater). Steve’s voice can be heard on many radio and tv advertisements. He is a proud member of SAG-AFTRA.

  • Megan M. Storti (Yolanda, Unif Girl, Raina)

    Megan is delighted to be returning to Lifeline this season, having just understudied The Woman in White. Chicago credits include understudy tracks in As You Like It at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, as well as performances in A Christmas Carol (Metropolis PAC), Marat/Sade (The Right Brain Project), Romeo & Juliet, (Glass Onion Theater), and Titus Andronicus (DreamLogic Theaterworks). Regional credits include: Shakespeare Festival of St. Louis, Illinois Shakespeare Festival, Phoenix Theatre and Putnam County Playhouse.

  • Eduardo Garcia (Understudy)

    Eddie is thrilled to be working with Lifeline on this amazing project. This is his 4th show with Lifeline Theatre and 2nd time understudying. Other credits include The Mark of Zorro, Treasure Island, and Watership Down. Eddie is also a teaching artist in Lifeline’s Education Program.

  • Graeme Scott (Understudy)

    Graeme is currently an intern at Lifeline Theatre and this will be his first appearance on our stage. His previous appearances have been with the Trinity Theater, where he played Lopakin in The Cherry Orchard, Chris in All my Sons, Lysander in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Horace in The Little Foxes.

  • Hilary Williams (Understudy)

    Hilary is so grateful to be back with Lifeline after a long time away. Her stage credits include work with Rivendell Theatre Ensemble (The Walls and These Shining Lives), LiveWire Chicago (Hideous Progeny and The Mistakes Madeline Made), Shattered Globe (Romeo and Juliet), and New Leaf Theatre (Arcadia). She is a proud company member of LiveWire Chicago Theatre, and can also be seen in the novelty folk band, Gretchen & Regina.

  • Christopher M. Walsh (Adaptor)

    Christopher has been a proud member of Lifeline’s artistic ensemble since 2010. The City & The City is his second adaptation. His first, The Count of Monte Cristo, recently opened in Calgary, Alberta. Christopher was a finalist for Deathscribe 2012: The Fifth Annual International Festival of Horror Radio Plays for his one-act, Comparing Notes at the End of the World. He has appeared onstage at Lifeline seven times, most recently as Count Fosco in The Woman in White. Other recent acting credits include The Duchess of Malfi(Strawdog Theatre) and Louis Slotin Sonata (A Red Orchid Theatre). He also performs Shakespeare for student audiences with A Crew of Patches. Christopher will next be seen in Lifeline’s production of The Three Musketeers.

  • Dorothy Milne (Director)

    Dorothy is a Lifeline ensemble member and its artistic director. She has directed more than 20 productions here, receiving a Non-Equity Jeff Award (Director-Play) for Around the World in 80 Days and nominations for Pistols for TwoJane EyreStrong Poison, and Gaudy Night. Dorothy also directs for Griffin Theatre and is involved in the Chicago storytelling scene as a writer/performer and director.

  • Becky Bishop (Stage Manager)

    This is Becky’s first show with Lifeline, though she has always admired them from afar. She has been a freelance stage manager in Chicago since 2006. She has stage managed productions with the Griffin Theatre such as KinStage Door, and Robber Bridegroom, among others. She’s also worked with the Strange Tree Group (Funeral Wedding: The Alvin Play), Steep Theatre (Under the Blue Sky), Caffeine Theatre (Under Milk Wood), as well as Dog & Pony Theatre and The Gift Theatre.

  • Leah Cox (Dramaturg)

    Leah graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. This is her first production with Lifeline and she couldn’t be more excited. Leah has worked at various theatres throughout Chicago. She also performs with The Lifeline Storytelling Project.

  • Benjamin W. Dawson (Production Manager)

    Ben received his MFA in Technical Design & Production Management from Florida State University. He served as the Production Safety Coordinator with The Santa Fe Opera and as Art Director for several television series with networks like Discovery, PBS, MTV and VH1. In Chicago, Ben has served, among other things, as Production Manager for Zombies Attack Chicago; as Technical Director for Remarcable Theatre’s Lips Together, Teeth Apart; and as the Scene Shop Foreman at Goodman Theatre. He is also currently a Company Member and the Production Manager for Sideshow Theatre Company and the Technical Director for American Theater Company.

  • Jesse Gaffney (Properties Designer)

    Jesse has been working in the Chicago area for over three years and is a proud to be back at Lifeline after working on Pride and Prejudice and Hunger. Elsewhere in the Chicago area she has worked with Silk Road Rising (Resident Designer), Immediate Family, 16th Street (Artistic Associate), Congo Square, Chicago Children’s Theatre, Apple Tree, and Notre Dame Shakespeare Company, among others. Outside of Chicago Jesse worked for Allenberry Playhouse in Pennsylvania, Stages St. Louis, and The Arrow Rock Lyceum.

  • Izumi Inaba (Costume Designer)

    Izumi is thrilled to be working with Dorothy and Lifeline Theatre for the first time. Her design credits include The Kid Thing (Chicago Dramatists and About Face); Stage DoorSpring AwakeningBurnt Part Boys, and Flare Path (Griffin); Woyzeck (The Hypocrites); Moby Dick (Building Stage); Homecoming (Mary-Arrchie); The New Electric Ballroom (A Red Orchid); and The Fantasticks (Porchlight). She is an ensemble member at Red Tape, where she has recently designed Elephant’s GraveyardSkriker, and Stadium Devildare. She has also worked with Theo Ubique and Chicago Dramatists as a makeup designer and was honored with a Non-Equity Jeff Award for Makeup Design for Cats (Theo Ubique). Izumi received her MFA in stage design from Northwestern University.

  • Christopher Kriz (Original Music & Sound Designer)

    Christopher works nationally as a composer and sound designer. Previous Lifeline designs include The Woman in WhitePride and Prejudice, and The Count Of Monte Cristo (for which he received two Non-Equity Jeff Award nominations for Original Music and Sound Design). In Chicago, Chris has designed for companies including Writers Theatre, Steppenwolf, Goodman, Victory Gardens, and Timeline. Recent Chicago credits include The Whipping Man (Northlight Theatre), The Letters (Writers Theatre), I Am Going To Change The World (Chicago Dramatists), After The Revolution (Next Theatre), and Purple Heart(Redtwist Theatre). Recent regional credits include The Nerd (Peninsula Players), Fall Of The House (Theatre Squared), and the national tour of America Amerique (Jena Company). Chris has received five Jeff nominations and two awards, most recently the Equity Jeff Award for Turn Of The Screw (First Folio). Chris is a proud member of United Scenic Artists Local 829.

  • Amanda Link (Movement Designer/Assistant Director)

    Amanda is excited to return to Lifeline after assistant directing Pride and Prejudice and appearing in Duck for PresidentHow To Survive a Fairy TaleDooby Dooby MooMrs. Piggle Wiggle, and Half Magic. Next up she will choreograph The Emperor’s Groovy New Clothes. She is also a proud member of The Lifeline Storytelling Project. Other Chicago credits include work with Griffin Theatre, the side project, The Mill, The Anatomy Collective, Inconceivable Theatre, and Sandbox Theatre Project. A graduate of the Conservatory Program at Second City, she has also performed in many sketch shows at Donny’s Skybox.

  • Jason Nykiel (Assistant Stage Manager)

    Jason has worked all over Chicago on run crews, set crews, and as an actor. He is a recent graduate from Roosevelt University. Past theatres include Northwestern, Chicago Children’s Theatre, Stage 773, Lookingglass Theatre, and ATC among others.

  • Greg Poljacik (Violence Designer)

    Greg has 12 years as teacher and choreographer for stage and screen with over 100 production credits to date. A utility stunt man specializing in all forms of combat, he is a member of the Society of American Fight Directors, AGMA, and Asylum Stunts. He has also developed and perfected blood effects for use in several film productions. Additionally, Greg is an Acting/Improvisation coach and teaches at The Second City Training Center in Chicago.

  • Joe Schermoly (Scenic Designer & Technical Director)

    Joe is a set designer, technical director and painter. His design work has been seen around Chicago at Lifeline Theatre (The Count of Monte CristoThe Mystery of the Pirate Ghost), Griffin Theatre (Flare PathPunk RockNo More Dead DogsPortConstant Wife), Strawdog Theatre (Duchess of MalfiMaster and MargaritaRichard III), Sideshow Theatre (IdomeneusThe Ugly One), Eclipse (Beyond the HorizonTrestle at Pope Lick Creek), and more. He has also designed and built shows in London for The Finborough, Bush and Gate theatres among others. Joe studied set design at Northwestern University and is the Technical Director at Lifeline Theatre and a Griffin Theatre company member.

  • Phil Timberlake (Dialect Coach)

    Phil appeared on the Lifeline stage as Mr. Collins in Pride and Prejudice, the Angel Islington in Neverwhere, Bunter in Busman’s Honeymoon (Non-Equity Jeff Nomination: Supporting Actor-Play), Prendick in The Island of Dr. Moreau (Non-Equity Jeff Award: Best Production), the Guru/Peppino in Queen Lucia (Non-Equity Jeff Nomination: Supporting Actor-Musical) and as Gollum/Legolas in The Two Towers. He also coached dialects for Treasure IslandStrong PoisonGaudy NightTalking It Over, and A Room With a View. He is an Associate Professor of Voice and Speech at the Theatre School, DePaul University. Phil joined the ensemble in 2006.

  • Brandon Wardell (Lighting Designer)

    This is Brandon’s fourth design at Lifeline, following The Count of Monte CristoThe Moonstone, and Mrs. Caliban. Brandon is an Artistic Ensemble member with Adventure Stage Chicago and is an Artistic Associate at Steep Theatre. Recent lighting designs include Three Days of Rain (BSTC), Love and Money (Steep), And A Child Shall Lead (ASC), Aunt Dan and Lemon (BSTC), and the US premiere of Harper Regan (Steep). Scenic designs include Six Stories Tall and Holes (ASC), Baal and The Fulton Street Sessions (TUTA), In Arabia We’d All Be Kings (Steep), and Dracula (Building Stage). Brandon earned his MFA from Northwestern University and is on the Faculty at Northern Illinois University.

From Time Out Chicago

Lifeline stages a surprisingly successful adaptation of China Miéville’s multilayered potboiler
March 5, 2013
By Kris Vire


China Miéville’s 2009 novel, The City & The City, encases a traditional and well-told police procedural in a fascinating layer of high-concept speculative fiction. The Eastern European city-states of Beszel and Ul Qoma are close neighbors and bitter rivals whose borders are carefully monitored. They’re divided not by a Berlin-like wall but by their citizens’ sheer force of will. The two cities are physically enmeshed, with some areas designated Beszel, some Ul Qoma and some “cross-hatched,” or existing in both cities at once; it’s up to the residents to “unsee” the city and people that aren’t their own.

This is the backdrop for Inspector Tyador Borlú’s investigation of a murder that forces him across the border, as it raises questions about the political establishments of both cities as well as Breach, the hypersecret authority that enforces their separation. Several fans of the book have asked me with incredulity in recent weeks how it could possibly work onstage; the answer is, pretty impressively. Adapter Christopher M. Walsh smartly compresses the cast of characters so they can be embodied by ten versatile actors, led by Steve Schine, who plays Borlú in the hardboiled-detective vein. He gets strong support from Marsha Harman as his eager and competent Besz right-hand woman and Chris Hainsworth as his straitlaced Ul Qoman counterpart. Dorothy Milne’s simple yet specific staging and Izumi Inaba’s costumes help suggest the two intersecting environments. An enjoyable potboiler with a unique twist, The City & The City is a great place to visit.



From Stage and Cinema

A Tale of Two Cities That Blends Sci Fi and Mystery
March 4, 2013
By Samantha Nelson

China Miéville’s novels are dense works of science fiction, and sometimes deciphering them feels more like work than entertainment. That’s why it’s impressive that Lifeline Theatre’s world premiere adaptation of his Hugo Award-winning The City & The City is so accessible. Adaptor Christopher M. Walsh has stripped the 352-page book down to a taught detective story with a strange premise.

The action follows Inspector Borlú (Steve Schine), who is investigating the murder of an American student in the Eastern European city of Beszel. But as her grieving parents (Millicent Hurley and Don Bender) quickly learn, Beszel is no normal city. It occupies the same space as its rival city, Ul Qoma. While crossing between the two can be as easy as crossing the street, the residents live in fear of making such a “breach” and have been trained to ignore the foreign residents that walk among them.

Borlú’s investigation sends him deep into the strange politics and history of both cities and Schine provides a delightful noir-style hero, standing tall in the face of increasing adversity with the help of the hilariously smug Dhatt (Chris Hainsworth) and the foul-mouthed and in-over-her-head Corwi (Marsha Harman.) Plenty of cop shows and movies could use the sort of chemistry that forms between Schine and his partners. Other excellent acting turns come from Patrick Blashill as the disgraced scholar Bowden and Bender’s over-the-top leader of the mysterious police force Breach.

With inventive blocking, director Dorothy Milne and movement designer Amanda Link adeptly demonstrate the strangeness of people coming and going next to each other without acknowledging one another; a particularly well-orchestrated scene involves Borlu tailing a suspect. Costume designer Izumi Inaba plays up the difference in the two cities residents with their garb, with Beszel’s dwellers clad in drab Eastern European-style clothes — wielding dated cellphones — while the more prosperous Ul Qumans sport vibrant neons and headphones. Scenic designer Joe Schermoly’s set adds to the paranoiac atmosphere via a set of windows overlooking the stage; actors sometimes peek through the blinds and lights periodically go on and off, giving the constant feeling that you are being watched.

While the narrative may seem confusing at first look, it comes together beautifully for a dramatic and satisfying climax. It might take an act to get used to the characters and concepts, but once you do, you’ll find yourself immersed in a tale that will satisfy both mystery and science fiction buffs.



From Chicago on the aisle

Politics, murder occupy the same space in a surreal thriller at Lifeline
March 3, 2013
By Lawrence B. Johnson

If the idea of Big Brother watching your every move gives you the creeps, imagine trying to avoid attention if it’s a crime just to look at the wrong person on the street or walk into the wrong store — because all the people and all the shops occupy common space shared by two sovereign city-states. Such is the fanciful setting of China Miééville’s “The City & The City,” a political murder mystery novel brought to the stage with panache and dark seriousness, as well as remarkable clarity, by Lifeline Theatre.

In the mythic East European city of Bészel, the body of a female American student is found, apparently the victim of a violent attack. The case goes to Inspector Borlú of the Bészel Extreme Crime Squad. Very soon, two probabilities arise: A political element lies behind the slaying — the student’s research may have put her on to a firmly held inter-city secret. And the killer may have violated city boundaries, a punishable act known as Breach.

Twists and turns of plot eventually draw in the director of an archaeological dig, a disgraced professor, underground advocates of unification and entrenched defenders of the two-city arrangement. A critical shift occurs when Inspector Borlú’s superiors decide the whole matter must be handed over to police in the co-existent city, Ul Qoma.

That’s when Borlú (Steve Schine as an unglamorous but experienced cop who’s just trying to make things add up) encounters his iron-fisted opposite Detective Dhatt, also a veteran, who makes it clear who’s in charge in Ul Qoma. Chris Hainsworth’s strapping Dhatt is an immediately likable character, for all his bluster, and the camaraderie forged between the two detectives goes a long way in keeping the viewer engaged through the play’s convoluted switchbacks between city and city. Hainsworth’s Dhatt, rough-humored but ultimately practical, is to Schine’s gumshoe Borlú as John Wayne is to Columbo.

Bringing this cross-hatched manhunt to the stage was initially the work of adapter Christopher M. Walsh, who has distilled — or perhaps the word is processed — Miéville’s novel with a sure sense of cohesion amid the froth of complexities and the punctuation of surprises. It’s fun just watching this ball of yarn play out, and that’s a credit to director Dorothy Milne, who is also Lifeline’s artistic director. While the story moves forward often through Borlú’s narrative, the whirl of events is also made visible — and readily comprehensible — by the visible churn of characters bustling about the stage.

Yet, out of that human cloud representing the converged masses from both cities precipitate well-drawn characters beyond the two dogged detectives: Marsha Harmon as Borlú’s ever-ready, foul-mouthed police assistant; Millicent Hurley as the dig supervisor; Patrick Blashill as the fallen professor who may hold a key to the murder, and Don Bender as, well, a late-arriving official who, like Detective Dhatt, reveals unsuspected humanity behind a dark mask of authority.

The set, with its many doors and windows controlling the stream of players and perceptions, is the efficient handiwork of Joe Schermoly, artfully abetted by lighting designer Brandon Wardell. Izumi Inaba’s evocative costumes add much to the mixed aura of distant place and familiar function.

Lifeline’s skillful and imaginative adaptation of “The City & The City” is a head-spinning theatrical lark, even if in the end it’s little more than a guilty pleasure. But you can be sure that when the ride’s over, you walk out knowing you’ve been somewhere. Two places, actually. Just try describing them on a postcard.