Monstrous Regiment

EXTENDED through August 3, 2014!
Thu & Fri at 7:30pm, Sat at 4pm & 8pm, Sun at 4pm
(No performance July 4)

“★★★★ If there has been a more accomplished comedic ensemble on a Chicago stage this year, I’ve not seen it.”  –Chicago Tribune

“★★★★ A comedy with top-notch production values that keeps the audience laughing… one of the more original stories you can see in a theatre.”  –Time Out Chicago

“A comedic triumph, a wonderfully funny absurdist romp.”  –Chicago Theatre Review

Borogravia is at war. Again. When Polly Perks’ brother goes missing in action, she cuts off her hair, stuffs a sock down her breeches, and enlists, hoping to find him. Passing successfully as a young man, she soon discovers that she’s not alone in protecting a secret and that nothing in the improbable war is as it seems. Scrambling to survive both the enemy and their untried officer, Polly’s misfit company makes its way to the front, where it might just prove to be the least likely regiment to ever win a battle. A wickedly funny look at the absurdities of war and ambiguities of identity, in a world premiere adaptation based on the 2003 Discworld novel.

A world premiere based on the novel by Terry Pratchett 
Adapted by Chris Hainsworth 
Directed by Kevin Theis

Join us for a Q&A with adaptor Chris Hainsworth and members of the cast, following the 4pm matinee on Sunday, July 13th. Learn more about Discworld and the process of bringing Monstrous Regiment to the stage!

Highlights from Monstrous Regiment. (Music by Christopher Kriz.) 

  • Kim Boler (Tonker)

    Kim is bursting with excitement to not only be working with the Lifeline Theatre for the first time but to also be able to bring to life a story by one of her favorite authors. Chicago credits include Tom Jones (Polarity Ensemble), All Childish Things (Hubris Productions), Jenni & Jenny (The Factory Theater), and Bruised Orange’s weekly show I SAW YOU. Regional credits include MerryGoRound Theatre (New York), Georgia Ensemble Theatre (Atlanta), Roxy Regional Theatre (Tennessee), and Busch Gardens, VA.

  • Matt Engle (Zlobenian Captain/Lord Rust/Paul)

    Matt is ecstatic about returning to Lifeline Theatre, where he last appeared in Watership Down. Other Chicago credits include Catch-22 and Howie the Rookie (Steep Theatre), Feydeau Si Deau (Theatre Wit), Marathon ’33 (Strawdog), Legion (WildClaw), and Henry V (Oak Park Festival Theatre). Since 2002, he has also been a proud ensemble member of The Factory Theater where he has performed (Dirty DiamondsToast of the TownJanice Dutts Goes To Life Camp, and Ren Faire! A Fistful of Ducats) and directed (Incident On Run #1217Gray Girl, and League of Awesome). Matt is represented by Paonessa Talent.

  • Melissa Engle (Wazzer)

    Melissa is thrilled to be back at Lifeline Theatre where she was last seen in A Tale of Two Cities and The Picture of Dorian Gray. Chicago credits: OOHRAH! (LiveWire/Steppenwolf); Henry V (Oak Park Festival); Romeo & Juliet (Shattered Globe); Feydeau Si Deau (Theatre Wit); Dancing at LughnasaThe SeagullBook Of Days (Raven Theatre); The (W)hole Thing(Stage Left); The Stinky Cheese Man (Griffin); as well as work with Steppenwolf, Chicago Dramatists, Chicago Shakespeare, Collaboraction and The Strange Tree Group. Regional credits include Montana Shakespeare in the Parks, Brown County Playhouse, Connecticut Repertory Theatre. Melissa is represented by Paonessa Talent.

  • John Ferrick (Cpl. Strappi/Sgt. Towering/Gen. Froc)

    This marks John’s 12th show with Lifeline, after last appearing in The Count of Monte Cristo. Lifeline credits include Treasure IslandThe Picture of Dorian GrayThe Killer AngelsThe Return of the King, and The Two Towers. A proud Ensemble Member of Strawdog Theatre, John’s credits there include Miss MarxGreat ExpectationsBig LoveRed NosesOld TownThree SistersJulius Caesar, and Our Country’s Good. Additional Chicago credits include Opus (Redtwist), Cabaret (the Hypocrites), Kingsville (Stage Left), The Artist Needs a Wife (side project), Dream Boy (About Face), and Arcadia (Goodman Theatre). A member of both SAG and AFTRA, John holds a BFA in Acting from The Theatre School at DePaul University and is represented by Paonessa Talent.

  • Robert Kauzlari (Lt. Blouse)

    Robert is a proud member of Lifeline’s artistic ensemble. As an actor, he has appeared in many Lifeline productions over the past fourteen seasons, including The Return of the KingAround the World in 80 Days (Non-Equity Jeff Awards: Supporting Actor-Play and Best Ensemble), The Killer AngelsStrong PoisonThe Mark of Zorro (After Dark Award: Outstanding Production), Neverwhere, and The Count of Monte Cristo. Robert has also adapted ten shows for Lifeline, and directed Treasure Island and Hunger. Other area acting credits include work with Seanachaí, Strawdog, Goodman Theatre, Greasy Joan, the Hypocrites, City Lit, Circle Theatre, New American Theater, and the IL Shakespeare Festival.

  • Katie McLean Hainsworth (Igor)

    Katie has been a member of Lifeline’s artistic ensemble since 2006. Her adaptation of The Mark of Zorro won the 2009 Non-Equity Jeff Award for New Adaptation, and she directed Watership DownJohnny Tremain, and The Cricket in Times Square. As an actor, her Lifeline credits include A Tale of Two CitiesThe Three MusketeersHungerNeverwhereMariette in EcstasyTalking it OverCrossing CaliforniaGaudy NightTrust Me On ThisFar From the Madding CrowdWhose Body?, and Cooking With Lard. A native of upstate New York, Katie has made Chicago her home for over twenty years and worked on productions with Black Sheep, BlindFaith, the Hypocrites, Bailiwick Repertory, Greasy Joan, Shakespeare’s Motley Crew, Who Threw That Ham?, and Zebra Crossing.

  • Michaela Petro (Maladict)

    Michaela is very excited to be here. As an ensemble member with Strawdog Theatre Company, as well as a company member of Wildclaw Theatre, she has been blessed to keep busy. She’s also spent time with Mary-Arrchie Theatre, Interrobang and various other storefronts. You can see her next as Dawn in Cole Theatre Company’s inaugural production of Ecstasy in mid-August at A Red Orchid Theatre. She is represented by Big Mouth Talent.

  • Sarah Price (Polly)

    Sarah is ecstatic to be making her Lifeline debut in Monstrous Regiment. Other Chicago credits include EL Stories (Waltzing Mechanics), Your Name Will Follow You Home (Steppenwolf, First Look Reading Series), Northanger Abbey (Remy Bummpo Theatre Company), and, most recently, Sita in A Red Orchid Theatre’s Solstice. Regional credits include A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Indiana Repertory Theatre). Sarah is a graduate of The Theatre School at DePaul University and the iO Chicago Training Center.

  • Justine C. Turner (Carborundum)

    Justine is thrilled to be making her Lifeline debut in Monstrous Regiment. She is an ensemble member of Strawdog Theatre, where roles include Laura/Harry in Miss Marx, the Duchess in The Duchess of Malfi, Margarita in The Master and Margarita, and J in The J and M Comedy Hour. She has previously worked with the Goodman, Writers Theatre, TimeLine, the Den, City Lit, Factory Theater, Defiant Theatre, Famous Door, Rivendell, Noble Fool Theatricals, and Journeymen Theatre Company. She was also a founding member of Crew of Patches Theatre Co. and The Plagiarists. She recently appeared in the season finale of Chicago Fire.

  • Christopher M. Walsh (Sgt. Jackrum)

    Christopher is a proud member of the artistic ensemble at Lifeline Theatre. He has appeared on the Lifeline stage nine times, including last season’s The Three Musketeers and The Woman in White. Other recent acting credits include Street Justice: Condition Red (Factory Theater), The Crownless King (House Theatre of Chicago), and The Duchess of Malfi(Strawdog Theatre). Christopher has also written a number of adaptations for Lifeline, including this season’s A Tale of Two Cities, and next season’s superhero musical, Soon I Will Be Invincible.

  • Mandy Walsh (Lofty)

    Mandy is thrilled to be back at Lifeline after appearing in Watership Down, as well as understudying The Count of Monte Cristo. Other Chicago credits include Detective Danielle Dugan in Street Justice: Condition Red and Sarah in Incident on Run #1217 (Factory Theater); Mom in The Xylophone West (Fine Print Theatre Co.); Madame Perrodon in Carmilla (WildClaw Theatre); and Fricka in The Ring Cycle (The Building Stage). Mandy is also a Company Member with WildClaw Theatre and a Graphic Designer at The Second City.

  • Alexandra Burch (Understudy)

    Ali is very pleased to be making her Lifeline Theatre debut. Chicago credits include the recent English premiere of no gravity(Red Tape Theatre), Katharine Hepburn u/s in Tea At Five (First Folio); as well as work with Redmoon, Collaboraction, Northlight and Two Pence Theatre. Regional credits include: The Girl in Hello Out There (Savage Rose Theatre Co, Louisville); Hermione in The Winter’s Tale and Juliet in Romeo and Juliet (Walden Theatre, Louisville.) Ali is a proud Loyola University Chicago graduate and a soon to be Apprentice in Actors Theatre of Louisville’s 51st season.

  • Katie Campbell (Understudy)

    Katie is excited to be working with Lifeline Theatre. Chicago credits include Ensemble in Evita (Jedlicka Performing Arts Center) and U/S Viola in Twelfth Night (Oak Park Festival Theatre). Regionally, she has performed with Circa ’21 Dinner Playhouse (Quad Cities), Unto These Hills (Cherokee, NC), Music Theatre Louisville and Stage One (Louisville). Katie graduated from the Chicago College of Performing Arts with a B.F.A. in Musical Theatre.

  • Catherine Dughi (Understudy)

    Catherine is ecstatic to be working with Lifeline Theatre for the first time. Favorite Chicago credits include Spark (u/s, Adventure Stage Chicago); Dream Catchers & Other Oddities (Careening Theatre); and Hey! Dancin’!The League of Awesome, and Incident on Run #1217 (assistant director) with Factory Theater, where she is a proud ensemble member. She can also be seen nationally in commercials for TruMoo and Jolly Time. Catherine is represented by Big Mouth Talent.

  • Kyle A. Gibson (Understudy)

    A lifelong Chicagoan, Kyle couldn’t be happier to be back with the talented folks at Lifeline, where he also appeared in The Picture of Dorian Gray. Kyle graduated from The Theatre School at DePaul University with an BFA in Acting, and is a proud Ensemble Member of Strawdog Theatre Company, where he has appeared in Big LoveRed NosesThe Duchess of MalfiMaster & Margarita, and most recently the hit Great Expectations – which you can also catch him in this summer at Theatre On The Lake. Kyle has also had the pleasure of working with Griffin Theatre (local and Nat’l tours), Oak Park Festival Theatre, Bailiwick Chicago, Emerald City, and others. A member of SAG-AFTRA, Kyle is represented by ATG.

  • Anthony Kayer (Understudy)

    Anthony is ecstatic to be returning to Lifeline where he was recently seen in Lyle Finds his Mother. Other Lifeline credits include The Emperor’s New Threads and Arnie the Doughnut. Other Chicago credits include: SITA RAM(Chicago Children’s Choir), Iphigenia 2.0 (Next Theatre), The March(Steppenwolf), and Elizabeth Rex (Chicago Shakespeare). Anthony is an alumnus of the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University and a proud ensemble member of The Inappropriate Theatre Company.

  • Chris Hainsworth (Adaptor)

    Chris is a proud member of the Lifeline Ensemble since 2010. Monstrous Regiment is his second adaptation; Hunger by Elise Blackwell was his first. He is a four-time finalist for WildClaw’s DeathScribe competition, winning in 2009 with his piece Remembrance. His work has also been seen in several WildClaw Salons and he studied in Strawdog’s Writing Initiative “The Hit Factory,” under Hank Boland. He is also an actor and was seen recently on the Lifeline stage in A Tale of Two CitiesThe Killer AngelsThe Three Musketeers, and The City & The City. When not performing with Lifeline he can be seen performing Shakespeare with A Crew of Patches at area high schools.

  • Kevin Theis (Director)

    Kevin returns to Lifeline, having previously directed The Silver ChairThe Sirens of Titan, and The Picture of Dorian Gray. Other Chicago productions include six shows at City Lit, most recently The Hound of the Baskervilles; four productions with Seanachaí Theatre Company (where he is an ensemble member), including A Moon for the Misbegotten; and five shows at Oak Park Festival Theatre, where he will direct The Importance of Being Earnest this summer. Other productions include The Fair Maid of the West (CT20 Ensemble), The Mandrake (Greasy Joan), and all three of the Bumblinni Brothers shows at the Actor’s Gymnasium. He has been nominated for three Jeff Awards for directing and has three published works.

  • Becky Bishop (Stage Manager)

    This is Becky’s second show with Lifeline after stage managing last season’s production of The City & The City. Previous works elsewhere include The Dead PrinceThe Half Brothers Mendelssohn, and Funeral Wedding: The Alvin Play (Strange Tree); KinLetters HomeOn the Shore of the Wide World, and Stage Door (Griffin Theatre); Under the Blue Sky(Steep), Under Milk Wood (Caffeine Theatre), Ape (Dog & Pony), Suicide Inc. (The Gift); and others. She has been a freelance stage manager in Chicago since 2006.

  • Kitty Campbell (Properties Designer & Puppet Assistant)

    Kitty is delighted to join Lifeline for the first time. Kitty is a freelance Props Designer in the Chicago area. Her recent design credits include: Six Stories TallAugusta and Noble, and Spark (Adventure Stage); Flare Path (Griffin Theatre); Dido and Aeneas (Westminster Opera Co.); Motortown and If There Is I Haven’t Yet (Steep Theatre); The Dead Prince (Strange Tree); and Il Viaggio A Reims (Roosevelt University). Kitty earned her BFA in Art History from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design and is the Props Assistant at Blue Man Group Chicago.

  • Geoff Coates (Fight Director)

    Geoff is a freelance Fight Director with over 21 years and 50 productions worth of experience working in Chicago theatre. Geoff received Non-Equity Jeff Awards in Outstanding Fight Choreography for Action Movie: The Director’s Cut at Defiant Theatre (with Joe Foust), and for the Lifeline productions of The Talisman RingThe Mark of Zorro, and Treasure Island, as well as After Dark Awards in Outstanding Fight Direction for The Mark Of Zorro and The Kentucky Cycle (Infamous Commonwealth). Geoff strives to explore the causality of conflict, and express it through dynamic and realistic physical action, cunning and inventive spectacle, and a desire to entertain and educate.

  • Benjamin W. Dawson (Production Manager)

    Prior to coming to Chicago, Ben 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 Sideshow Theatre Company, Pine Box Theater, and WildClaw Theatre; as Technical Director Haven Theatre and The Strange Tree Group; and as the Scene Shop Foreman at Goodman Theatre. In addition to his work with Lifeline, Ben is also an Artistic Associate with Sideshow Theatre Company and the Assistant Technical Director for Lookingglass Theatre Company.

  • Emily Dillard (Assistant Director)

    Emily is delighted to work on Monstrous Regiment. She was a recent intern of Lifeline Theatre. This is her first Chicago production. She recently graduated with a B.S. in Corporate Communications and Theater from Olivet Nazarene University.

  • Kevin D. Gawley (Lighting Designer)

    A Lifeline ensemble member since 2001, Kevin won the Non-Equity Jeff Awards for his designs of The Island of Dr. Moreau and Jane Eyre, and the After Dark Award for Strong Poison. He was also nominated for Non-Equity Jeff Awards for his designs of HungerTreasure IslandNeverwhere, and The Woman in White. His lighting and scenic designs have also appeared in numerous productions at the Bailiwick, Organic, Porchlight, Blindfaith, Theatre on the Lake, Metropolis, Storefront, Loyola University, Revels Chicago, Midwest Jewish, Taylor University, and at the NC Shakespeare Festival theatres. Kevin is the Lighting and Scenic Design professor at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and has taught previously at Loyola University Chicago and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

  • Joanna Iwanicka (Scenic Designer)

    Joanna is thrilled to work again at Lifeline where she designed the sets for KidSeries productions The True Story of 3 Little Pigs! (2007 & 2014), Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed, and Duck for President; masks/puppets for Dooby Dooby MooThe Last of the DragonsThe Blue ShadowWatership Down; and managed props for A Room with a View. Her recent set credits include Pinkolandia (16th Street Theatre), The President (Oracle), Great Expectations and Improbable Frequency (Strawdog Theatre), The Balcony and Core of the Pudel (Trap Door), Electric Baby and Wrens (Rivendell Theatre Ensemble) among others.

  • Elise Kauzlaric (Dialect Coach)

    Elise has been a member of Lifeline’s Artistic Ensemble since 2005 and has coached numerous productions, including The Killer AngelsThe MoonstoneThe Picture of Dorian GrayThe Mark of Zorro, and The Piano Tuner. She has also coached for TimeLine, Seanachaí, Griffin Theatre, Backstage, Signal Ensemble, the Hypocrites, and others. Twice nominated by the Jeff Committee for her dialect work (Busman’s Honeymoon at Lifeline and Punk Rock at Griffin), she also directs and acts around town, receiving a Non-Equity Jeff nomination for her direction of Mariette in Ecstasy (Lifeline) and Supporting Actress nomination for her work in On the Shore of the Wide World (Griffin). Elise teaches at CCPA at Roosevelt University.

  • Emily McConnell (Costume Designer)

    Emily is delighted to return to Lifeline after designing The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs!earlier this season. She is the Resident Costume Designer for Roosevelt University’s Chicago College of the Performing Arts, and designs for theaters around Chicago. Credits include Black Pearl SingsThe Commons of Pensacola (Northlight); AmadeusTwelfth NightInherit the WindRichard III (Oak Park Festival Theatre); Reverb (Redtwist), Roadkill Confidential(Dog & Pony ); Suicide Incorporated (Gift Theatre); and LutherLakeboatHollow Lands, and In Arabia… (Steep Theatre), among others. She is a proud Artistic Associate of Steep Theatre, and has an MFA from Northwestern.

  • Christopher Kriz (Original Music & Sound Designer)

    Chris returns to Lifeline, having previously designed The City & The CityThe Woman In White (Non-Equity Jeff Nomination), Pride and Prejudice(Non-Equity Jeff Nomination), and The Count Of Monte Cristo (Non-Equity Jeff Nomination). Next spring, Lifeline will produce Chris’s original musical Soon I Will Be Invincible, adapted by Christopher M. Walsh. In Chicago, Chris has designed for Writers Theatre, Northlight, Steppenwolf, Goodman, Victory Gardens, Remy Bumppo, First Folio, Next, The Gift, TimeLine, and many others. Recent designs include Hedda Gabbler (Writers), Great God Pan (Next Theatre), Salvage(First Folio), Cicada (Route 66), Mill Fire (Shattered Globe), and Miss Marx (Strawdog). Chris has received nine Jeff nominations and two awards. Chris is a proud member of United Scenic Artists Local 829

  • Kate Reed (Assistant Stage Manager)

    Kate is thrilled to be working with Lifeline Theatre for the first time. Her previous stage management credits include The Duchess of Malfi , Bye Bye Birdie , and Amadeus (Northwestern University Theatre and Interpretation Center); The Xylophone West (Fine Print Theatre Co.), Much Ado About Nothing (Lovers and Madmen), and The God of Hell (Spectrum Theatre Company). She graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in Performance Studies.

  • Joe Schermoly (Technical Director)

    Joe is a set designer, technical director and a company member with Griffin Theatre. His design work has been seen at Lifeline (The Count of Monte CristoThe City & The City), Griffin (Spelling BeeFlare PathPunk RockNo More Dead DogsPortConstant Wife), Theatre Wit (Completeness), Seanachaí (The Seafarer), Strawdog (Duchess of MalfiMaster and MargaritaRichard III), Sideshow Theatre (IdomeneusThe Ugly One), Eclipse (Beyond the HorizonThe Trestle at Pope Lick Creek) and more. He has also designed and built shows in London for The Finborough, Bush and Gate theatres. Joe studied set design at Northwestern University and has received two After Dark Awards and two Jeff Nominations.

From the Chicago Tribune

World of ‘Monstrous Regiment’ is anything but flat
June 16, 2014
By Kerry Reid


Full disclosure: I’ve yet to get my literary passport stamped for Terry Pratchett’s “Discworld.” But after seeing Lifeline Theatre’s marvelous production of “Monstrous Regiment,” the 31st novel in Pratchett’s hugely popular series about life on a flat planet whose inhabitants’ foibles are suspiciously similar to our own, I’m ready to book passage on the S.S. Pratchett.

I would, however, need an extra-large suite to accommodate every last member of the stellar Lifeline ensemble as tour guides to Borogravia. Even the troll. Heck, especially the troll.

As I’ve not read the source novel, I can’t vouch for how much adapter Chris Hainsworth had to leave on the cutting-room floor, but from reading online summaries, my guess is “a lot.” My judgment is that it doesn’t matter. As a Pratchett newbie, I had no problem entering into this topsy-turvy world for two-plus hours and following the ins and outs of its backstory, presented here with a tidy minimum of exposition. (The episodic nature of the script does require close attention from time to time as key bits of information from earlier interludes come back, but the payoff is generally tremendous.)

The best thing about Hainsworth’s script and director Kevin Theis’ crackerjack staging is that it manages to fully inhabit the realm of the ridiculous while tipping its hat to Pratchett’s essentially humanist/feminist concerns. Somehow, as Iraq falls into even greater sectarian violence, a play rife with grotesque absurdity (soldiers dining on horsemeat and clothed in the blood-soaked uniforms of dead comrades) about a never-ending war waged on behalf of the probably-dead duchess of the aforementioned Borogravia seems wholly apropos.

Polly Perks (Sarah Price) is the daughter of a Borogravian innkeeper whose brother, Paul, has disappeared into the fog of war with neighboring Zlobenia. At the start of the play, she decides to search for him by cutting her hair, donning men’s apparel and shoving a sock down her trousers in order to pass as a man and sign up for the Borogravian army, in a regiment headed by gruff Sergeant Jackrum (Christopher M. Walsh).

She soon finds out that her fellow “lads” are also women in disguise — including Igor (Katie McLean Hainsworth), whose ghoulish skills at recycling body parts makes him/her a natural for medic duty; Wazzer (Melissa Engle), an abused survivor of a workhouse who has hallucinatory visions from the duchess; tough Tonker (Kim Boler) and firebug Lofty (Mandy Walsh), lovers and fellow survivors from the same Dickensian hellhole; and Carborundum the troll. The latter is played by Justine C. Turner, bearing more than a passing resemblance to Marvel Comics’ Thing in Emily McConnell’s fabulous gray foam-brick costume and yet still able to convey an adorable just-one-of-the-gals air of bonhomie.

For good measure, there’s also Maladict (the hypnotic Michaela Petro), a vampire of indeterminate gender and an overwhelming jones for coffee, which takes the place of the usual undead beverage of choice.

Badly outnumbered, the “monstrous regiment” (Pratchett’s title twits Scottish reformer John Knox’s 1558 screed against women rulers) has to figure out how to survive and defeat the Zlobenian garrison. They are both thwarted and abetted by foppish-but-not-quite-as-dumb-as-he-seems Lieutenant Blouse (Robert Kauzlaric, whose endless use of air quotes is a reliable running gag).

The anti-war and anti-violence sentiments in the script, updated by Hainsworth with references to “shock and awe” and “don’t ask, don’t tell,” are handled with offhanded aplomb that keep them from feeling like cheap sloganeering. When asked by Polly “What did you used to do — back in the world?” Engle’s forlorn Wazzer replies quietly “I used to be beaten.” Tonker notes acidly of the powers-that-be “It’s their country. It only becomes ours when somebody has to die for it.” And yet — they are willing to die for it, for reasons as complex as any offered by male recruits for centuries.

If there has been a more accomplished comedic ensemble on a Chicago stage this year, I’ve not seen it. I could watch Turner’s troll toss her imaginary hair or Hainsworth’s Igor react with black-circled-but-wide-eyed wonder to shifting circumstances over and over again. Walsh brings multiple layers of anger and vulnerability to Jackrum, Matt Engle and John Ferrick provide richly detailed turns as various soldiers and despots, and Joanna Iwanicka’s broken-walled set, Kevin D. Gawley’s crepuscular lighting, and Christopher Kriz’s witty sound design enhance the slightly steam-punkish world of this monstrously smart and funny production.

From the Daily Herald

Lifeline’s comic fantasy a ‘Monstrous’ delight
June 12, 2014
By Barbara Vitello


I have never read a novel from fantasy writer Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series. But after seeing Lifeline Theatre’s zealous, laugh-out-loud world premiere adaptation of Pratchett’s 2003 novel “Monstrous Regiment,” I’m inclined to. Director Kevin Theis’ endlessly engaging production is that good.

Part of the appeal has to do with the witty script by Chris Hainsworth. The Glendale Heights native captures the oddball charm of Pratchett’s fictional world — a flat universe resting on the back of four elephants who stand on the shell of a giant turtle swimming through space — and the quirky, solidly crafted characters who inhabit it.

The success of “Monstrous Regiment” also results from the artful balance Theis and his superb cast achieve between satire and surreality. It’s droll but not too dry, silly but not over-the-top. The actors’ deadpan delivery, like their timing, is on target. And the visual puns — such as a hunchback’s shifting hump — are subtle but effective.

Taking its title from John Knox’s 16th-century tirade against female sovereigns (“The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women”), in which he argues gender makes women unsuitable leaders, the play satirizes gender roles. It also serves as a caustic rebuke of war, blind patriotism and persistent stupidity — all of which make this “Regiment” resonant.

The action unfolds in Borogravia, a country whose citizens have long forgotten — if they ever knew — the reasons for their perpetual feuds with their neighbors on the Disc.

Facing defeat and with their ranks depleted, army recruiters seek out young soldiers willing to enlist in Borogravia’s latest struggle against neighboring Zlobenia. Among them is Polly Perks (Sarah Price, a winningly winsome waif), who cuts her hair, dons a pair of breeches, changes her name to Oliver and joins the army to find her wayward brother (also a recruit) and bring him home. She’s assigned to a ragtag regiment, whose recruits are as green as she is. Among them is aristocratic vampire Maladict (Michaela Petro, all refined menace), who swore off blood in favor of coffee; Igor (great work from Katie McLean Hainsworth), a hunchback medic with a talent for stitching together bodies; and the slightly dim troll Carborundum (the affable, amusing Justine C. Turner), who enlists under the army’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. This motley band of “brothers” includes Melissa Engle’s pious Wazzer, a Joan of Arc-like character who hears the voice of Borogravia’s revered Duchess, a sovereign who hasn’t been seen in public for 30 years and may be dead. That’s a minor concern, however, in a world where something becomes real if enough people believe it.

Rounding out the regiment dubbed monstrous is the self-contained Lofty (Mandy Walsh) and the defiant Tonker (passionately played by Kim Boler), who expresses in simple terms the frustration of the powerless when she exclaims: “There are rules. They can’t do whatever they want just because they can.”

Leading the untrained, poorly outfitted regiment is the gruff, battle-hardened, unfailingly decent Sgt. Jackrum, played with equal parts compassion and ruthlessness by Christopher M. Walsh. Walsh brings real pathos. Also on hand is Jackrum’s weaselly corporal Strappi (John Ferrick) and their commanding officer, the dapper, befuddled Lt. Blouse (the hilarious Robert Kauzlaric), a dandy eager for glory.

We follow thve misadventures of this untrained, poorly equipped but perpetually plucky unit from skirmish to skirmish, from defeat to victory to disappointment — when they realize that misogyny trumps all, even valor.

At two and a half hours including intermission, the play is overly long and needs trimming. But that’s a minor point in what is a major delight from a company renowned for its page-to-stage translations.

As for me, I owe Lifeline a “thank you” not just for a rollicking evening of theater, but for inspiring my next book club suggestion.

From Centerstage

June 15, 2014
By Rory Leahy

As an ardent admirer of both fantasy and comedy, I’m often asked if I’m a fan of Terry Pratchett’s sprawling comic fantasy Discworld series. I have had to mutter that I’m not really, I read a couple of the early ones in college and found them quite dull. In just the last year two of my best friends have gifted me Discworld novels and it seems churlish not to read them but I still haven’t. It may well be that the later ones are where Pratchett found his stride.

Chris Hainsworth’s adaptation of his 2003 novel “Monstrous Regiment,” beautifully directed by Kevin Theis, would certainly seem to bolster this case.

“Monstrous” tells the story of the embattled nation of Borogravia, very much pseudo Britain despite the Eastern Europeanish name, fighting a war for its survival against enemy invaders. Our young protagonist, Polly Perks (Sarah Price) joins the army disguised as a boy in the hopes of finding her MIA older brother. The regiment is composed of several “monsters,” a rock covered troll, Carborundum (Justine C. Turner) a couple of psychics (Melissa Engle and Mandy Walsh) an “Igor” (Katie McLean Hainsworth) and Maladict (Michaela Petro) a vampire who has developed an overpowering addiction to coffee in lieu of human blood.

We also soon discover that like Polly, the other recruits are ALL secretly girls pretending to be boys. This hits on a number of satirical levels. Being a monstrous troll is no impediment to military service, but it would be if she revealed her sex. Monsters are an apt metaphor for the way conservative elements look at the transgendered.

Naturally our brave young heroines prove their mettle under the leadership of two classic military archetypes, the foppish lieutenant (Robert Kauzlaric) and grizzled bulldog of a sergeant. (Christopher M. Walsh)

I can’t recommend this show highly enough, it’s a comedy with wit and heart, sparkling performances, and Lifeline’s traditionally excellent production values.

Now where did I put those Pratchett books?

From Chicago Theater Beat

A monstrously good time!
June 17, 2014
By Clint May


Lifeline’s dedication to bringing the literary to life takes on what may be its grandest fantasy adaptation since “Lord of the Rings.” Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series — begun in 1983 and still going — is a massive bestseller with a devoted cult following. Monstrous Regiment is the 31st of the 40 extant books, and entering the world this far into the series is a curious choice. Thanks to a skillful adaptation by Chris Hainsworth, Lifeline has faith in our ability to accept the fantastical and eschews many esoteric details. Fans of the series and newcomers (like me) alike will delight in this rollicking tale of gender bending warriors who must fight not just their enemies but the stifling constraints of conservatism.

Upon the magical Discworld (so named because the world is in fact a disc), the small country of Borogravia is at war with their more advanced neighbors. The intrepid Polly (Sarah Price) enlists in the army Joan of Arc-style to rescue her brother from behind enemy lines. Renamed “Oliver Perks,” she soon discovers that many of her regimental Band of Brothers are actually her “Sisters.” It’s heavily implied that this is because there are so few men left in the flagging war effort to enlist. True to the title, there are actual monsters — a coffee-loving vampire (Michaela Petro), a dim-witted troll (Justine C. Turner) and a creepy Igor (Katie McLean Hainsworth). Some are just escaping the monstrous conditions in their misogynistic homeland. Abused in the Girl’s Working School, Lofty (Mandy Walsh), Tonker (Kim Boler) and Wazzer (Melissa Engle) are a misfit group of wild cards who may or may not defect at the border. Under the command of the stalwart Sergeant Jackrum (Christopher M. Walsh) and foppish Lieutenant Blouse (Robert Kauzlaric), they fight their way to an enemy stronghold and gain a reputation as a fierce brigand en route.

Pratchett’s thick self-aware satire of war takes on propaganda, gender roles, hollow patriotism and incompetent leadership. The entire Discworld series is as large a mythology as Harry Potter or Tolkien, and specifically a Swiftian spoof of the tropes found therein mingled with current events. Monstrous Regiment has overtones of Orwell brought in for good measure in a world where the laws of physics include a meta-force that is solely dedicated to maintaining cohesive narratives.

As in many sci-fi/fantasy stories, it’s the side characters that get the best moments. Price is pretty funny in her own right, but no one can compete with the wickedly hilarious Hainsworth and her lisping Igor. Preening and ambiguously gendered, Petro’s blood-abstaining vampire is a fabulous construct. The award for most lovable goes to Turner’s lumbering rock troll. Everyone may have a different favorite, as Kevin Theis has pitch-perfectly directed them with a Mel Brooksian verve (some parts are definitely reminiscent of Young Frankenstein). Social criticism is never bogged down by a primary need to get another giggle or outright guffaw. Lifeline’s technical team similarly fires on all cylinders with Joanna Iwanicka’s adaptable scenery and some imaginative costumes by Emily McConnell earning top marks.

Replete with running gags and blink-and-you’ll-miss them jokes, Monstrous Regiment even manages a few surprises and largely transcends its fantasy roots. Whimsical summer fun rarely come as delectably packaged as this!

From Windy City Times

June 18, 2014
By Mary Shen Barnidge

Move over, Dirty Dozen! At ease, Inglorious Basterds! The members of the undefeatable squad called by its foes the “monstrous regiment” are a team of literally monstrous misfits: Carborundum, the phlegmatic troll; Igor, the hunchbacked field surgeon; Wazzer, the sky-pilot mystic; Maladict, the recovering-addict vampire; Tonker and Lofty, the orphanage runaways; and Ozzie, the former bartender. Their superiors in the Borogravian army are the weaselly Col. Strappi, the wise Sgt. Jackrum and the effete Lt. Blouse. All of them have personal reasons for enlisting that will only be revealed in the heat of battle.

Those familiar with the literary career of Terry Pratchett (who commands his own yearly international conference in the UK) know to expect sly social commentary in the guise of a mock-epic fantasy structured with the slapdash glee of a Dungeons and Dragons tournament. For those encountering the exhaustive Discworld series for the first time (like me), Chris Hainsworth’s adaptation deftly avoids becoming bogged down in arcane backstories from previous volumes to locate us firmly in the present, the Balkanesque conflicts providing a canvas for discussion of war’s eternal stupidity.

This is no windy allegorical polemic, however. Under Kevin Theis’ direction, this motley band of, uh, brothers emerges as a gang of live-action cartoons, with smart, slapstick antics always grounded in individual personalities. (Caffeine withdrawal represents a serious threat when coffee is a bloodjunkie’s methadone, for example, and the old socks-down-the-trousers approach to she-male drag gets funnier when an entire platoon… on the other hand, I’m not gonna spoil THAT surprise).

The wordplay likewise brims with the delight of an author who obviously loves his language, replete with puns and allusions inserted so unobtrusively as to register without stopping the flow of the action, as well as a dry humor (“I’ve starved before,” Sgt. Jackrum warns his troops, “There’s no future in it”) refreshingly devoid of the juvenile snark too often infecting sword-and-sorcery satire.

The swift physical pace would mean nothing without verbal agility as well, but Lifeline’s dream-team ensemble never misses a step, despite costumes that include a prosthetic hump for Igor and full-body granite-camo armor for Carborundum (“You can’t get blood from a stone”) and special effects encompassing spectral visions, crossbow fire and big bangs just when you need them. The results are two and a half hours of giddy — and surprisingly wholesome — fun, even if, as the sergeant observes, “The regiment never met an entendre it couldn’t double.”

From the Chicago Reader

Monstrous Regiment, delightful show
June 11, 2014
By Tony Adler


Ever heard off Terry Pratchett? Me neither, until a few days ago. But it turns out he’s an awfully big deal: a knighted English author who’s written books by the dozens and sold them by the tens of millions since his first was published back in 1971. Pratchett’s great project is the Discworld series of comic fantasy novels. Comprising 41 titles so far, the series chronicles doings on a flat planet supported by four elephants standing atop a giant turtle who swims through space going no one knows where. According to a remarkably entertaining Wikipedia entry purporting to sketch out Pratchett’s universe, “Reality is spread thinly on the Disc, so events may be affected by expectations… Essentially, if something is believed strongly enough, or by enough people, it may become true… This is known as the law of narrative causality.”

Having so far read just the first 108 pages of the 31st Discworld book, Monstrous Regiment, I’m no expert. But it’s already clear that Pratchett’s work falls into that Hitchhiker’s Guide/Doctor Who-esque fun-with-physics genre the Brits seem to like so much — but with a whiff of the 18th-century picaresque thrown in. It’s the sort of thing that might come of crossing, say, the cosmos of a Tolkien with the subversive sensibilities of a Jonathan Swift.

Monstrous Regiment is the source of a new stage adaptation written by Chris Hainsworth and presented at Lifeline Theatre in a delightful staging by Kevin Theis. It centers on Polly Perks, a resourceful young woman who works for her dad at an inn in the troubled duchy of Borogravia. Or at least that’s what she does until she decides to cut her hair, lose the skirt, change her name to Oliver, and join the army.

A big part of the trouble with Borogravia is that it’s governed by a woman who may very well be dead. The Duchess went into seclusion three decades prior to the action of the story, due to the premature demise of her husband. There’s been nary a public peep from her since, but that hasn’t kept her from becoming the Madonna-like subject of a cult of personality. Her image is everywhere. Indeed, many folks pray to it. Polly is required to kiss it when she enlists.

In the absence of any real administration, the Borogravian power vacuum has been filled by a despotic little deity called Nuggan whose list of Abominations includes chocolate, dwarves, shirts with six buttons, and the color blue. It probably goes without saying that he also abhors the idea of women doing “the work of a man” and vice versa. Old Nobodaddy Nuggan adds to the list so often, Pratchett writes, that his holy book is issued in a ring binder.

Nuggan’s edicts have so thoroughly rattled Borogravia’s neighbors that the duchy is constantly under siege. Pratchett is darkly comic about the consequences, especially when it comes to veterans hobbling around on incomplete sets of limbs, their guts held in by their coats. The economy is in shambles, the villages picked clean of young men. Polly’s own brother, Paul, has disappeared into the maw of war; it’s to find him and bring him home that she embarks on her boyish masquerade, joining a squad manned entirely by scrapings from the bottom of the societal barrel. Among her fellow recruits are a troll, an Igor (as in Dr. Frankenstein’s body-part-scavenging assistant), and a suave vampire called Maladict, who, having sworn off human blood, guzzles coffee instead. Each of them has a secret.

Hainsworth has done a fine job of translating Pratchett’s amiable cynicism into sharp theatrical language. His adaptation is witty on its own account and only slightly overlong at two and a half hours. But it’s Theis’s ensemble that bring even the undead to vivid, entertaining life. Starting out jet-set smooth and uber-vampire confident, Michaela Petro suffers amusingly when severe caffeine deprivation brings Maladict this close to breaking his blood-temperance oath. Justine Turner acts her way through thick layers of gray foam costuming to create a droll troll. And Katie McLean Hainsworth steals a whole slew of scenes as Igor the, uh, Igor. Robert Kauzlaric builds an engagingly clueless lieutenant out of air quotes, while Christopher M. Walsh supplies unexpected nuance and a large measure of heart as the squad’s tough, genial NCO. Sarah Price’s Polly is as plucky as she needs to be — and yet her main virtue isn’t heroism or even likability, but the way she invites us into her adventure.

Monstrous Regiment looks like a satire on the flimsiness of traditional gender roles. And to a great extent, that’s what it is. Still, it’s also knowing enough, large enough to recognize the irony of searching for sexual equality on a battlefield. Driving home from Lifeline, I heard a scholar on the radio comment that, given the amount of time the United States has spent in a state of war since 1940, peace is the real aberration. In other words, America, Borogravia — take your pick.

From New City

June 11, 2014
By Raymond Rehayem


You might think being a rock troll, a vampire, a werewolf, or a hunch-backed “Igor” would disqualify hopeful enlistees from military service. But in the fictional land of Borogravia, it’s just their gender that the unlikely female recruits of “Monstrous Regiment” are compelled to hide.

I was not familiar with the Terry Pratchett source novel when I took the assignment to review Chris Hainsworth’s adaptation of this satirical war tale, nor did I have the time to read the preceding 30 books in Pratchett’s “Discworld” series. So, from a fan angle perhaps I entered Lifeline Theatre about as ill-prepared for what I was about to see as these characters are for battle. But while a Discworld devotee might glean additional pleasure seeing Pratchett’s work brought to life, I quickly recognized that the targets of the humor are universal, the show’s aim is decidedly true, and there’s nothing to keep the uninitiated from thoroughly enjoying this delightful production.

In the service of an unseen, frequently referenced, likely deceased Duchess and driven by a disparate set of personal motivations the young women — disguised as lads — sign up for a Borogravian army which has seemingly exhausted its supply of eligible males. Much of the comedy comes from the obviousness of the gender deception (though one can never be sure with a vampire, they’re just androgynous by nature…). Similarly the determination of these soldiers to overcome strictures of femininity and defy accepted societal roles lends the show much of its emotional resonance.

Director Kevin Theis orchestrates the flow of physical comedy and the delivery of the frequently funny dialogue impeccably. Timing, that essential key to comedy in fictional lands on the Disc and right here on planet Earth, is spot-on from start to finish. The sci-fi and fantastical elements work in service of the script’s main focus on providing commentary on war and social injustice while delivering laughs. Along with the ample jokes, there are occasional tender moments. The entire cast is crisp and undeniably likeable. Among the oddball assemblage of gals-posing-as-lads Sarah Price shines as our main hero Polly, a novice like the others but a born leader who initiates her plans by effortlessly convincing her laughably confident superior Lt. Blouse (Robert Kauzlaric) that he’s the originator of Polly’s tactics. Katie McLean Hainsworth is hilarious as a member of a race of Frankenstein’s assistants known as Igors. Michaela Petro is alternately aloof and seething as Maladict, a vampire with the self-discipline to substitute a steady stream of coffee for the traditional beverage of human blood. Justine C. Turner lumbers comically (both physically and verbally) under Emily McConnell’s wonderfully designed costume for Carborundum, a thick-skulled and thick-skinned troll. And Christopher M. Walsh is solid as the war-weary, gutsy Sgt. Jackrum under whom they all serve.

The Woman Power message is driven home a bit too bluntly and repetitively near the end of this nearly two and a half hour show, but otherwise “Monstrous Regiment” moves along briskly. The strength of the cast is itself an argument for gender equality, the women and the men in this winning production are all worthy of commendation.

From Time Out Chicago

June 10, 2014
By Kevin Thomas


From the moment Monstrous Regiment begins, with an army recruiter’s vaudevillian routine calling the brave sons of Borogravia to join against the foul Zlobenian and Ankh-Morporkian invaders (complete with helpful flags, for the more dim-witted recruits) while Polly Perks (Sarah Price) cuts her hair and stuffs her trousers to become Oliver, it’s clear that Lifeline Theatre understands Terry Pratchett.

The celebrated author is one of the last masters of satire, and Monstrous Regiment is one of his finest works. While a lot of satire today devolves into snark, Pratchett’s writing is earnest, enthusiastic, and celebrates the bravely idiotic spirit of humanity. Though Discworld is full of dwarves, dragons and other fantasy trappings, it’s less sword-and-sworcery and more the realities of modern life as experienced by a strange and comical universe. Lifeline’s adaptation, as with its opening scene, visually captures the absurd zeal with which Pratchett’s societies perform their beliefs as well as the hapless dignity of his heroines.

Borogravia is a mad little country that’s been at war with just about everyone, and Polly Perks never cared until her brother Paul went missing in the army. To find him, she disguises herself as a boy and joins a misfit group of recruits led by the sergeant’s sergeant, the infamous Jackrum (Christopher M. Walsh). Her comrades include a troll, a religious fanatic, runaways, a vampire and an Igor, but they have one thing in common: They’re all secretly women.

Monstrous Regiment’s greatest achievement is the speed with which it immerses you in its universe. The ensemble is confident in its project, and each actor changes their manner depending on who they’re speaking to — so the vampire Maledict (Michaela Petro) is never addressed as if she’s not sporting fangs, and everyone talks a little softer to the pious, unhinged Wazzer (Melissa Engle). Combined with spectacular costumes and spot-on physical comedy, it’s immediately understandable and entertaining.

This is a very literal, page-to-stage adaptation, which works just fine because the source dialogue is hilarious. The addition of great visual gags makes it even funnier. That said, the literalness doesn’t always work in its favor. A well-paced book becomes rushed in a theater. It’s not that moments aren’t given their due time; rather Monstrous Regiment begins to be one event after another after another. Even as a hardcore Pratchett fan, I wish Chris Hainsworth had done more adapting and taken more liberties with the text. It unquestionably is a book read aloud, even to those who don’t know the source, and doesn’t quite achieve the holistic feeling of a stage play. The cast acts to the dialogue, rather than bending the delivery to their character, much like you see with a lot of Shakespeare productions.

The results are still good, but there’s a sense they could achieve more, and the ensemble is rarely subtle. The exception is Walsh as Sergeant Jackrum, who is so much more than the “Sarge” stereotype. He is simultaneously a ruthless killer, a beleaguered old soldier and a caring leader; not an easy character, but Walsh rises to the occasion in the most natural performance of the show, one that gives it real soul.

If imperfect and perhaps too reverent of its source material, Monstrous Regiment is still a comedy with top-notch production values that keep the audience laughing, and is one of the more original stories you can see in a theatre. I’m thrilled Lifeline chose to tackle it, and with such gusto. I’d simply love to see the creators break from Pratchett’s pages even more to make their adaptation a great work in its own right, because the talent and passion are there.

From Chicago Theatre Review

June 14, 2014
By Peter Thomas Ricci


“Monstrous Regiment,” the latest world premiere from the ever-inventive Lifeline Theatre, is a comedic triumph, a wonderfully funny absurdist romp that caps off the company’s terrific 2013-2014 season.

A story of war and folly, “Monstrous Regiment” follows the the scruffy oddballs who comprise the last standing army of Borogravia, a fictional country at war with a similarly loony neighboring country. Though the play largely centers around Polly Perks (a soldier in drag played by the delightful Sarah Price), the army corp includes an Igor (yes, of Frankenstein fame, and played terrifically by Katie McLean Hansworth); a coffee-obsessed vampire (played with blood-sucking glee by Michaela Petro); a dimwitted troll; a gruff-talking sargent (the excellent Lifeline ensemble member Christopher M. Walsh); and a truly ridiculous lieutenant, who in the hands of the brilliant Robert Kauzlaric is nothing short of a comedic masterstroke; indeed, I looked forward to every moment that Kauzlaric was on stage, when his movements, pompous British accents, and falsetto cries never failed to inspire laughter from the audience.

As usual with Lifeline productions, the cast is aided immeasurably by the taut direction of Kevin Theis and the outstanding staging of Joanna Iwanicka. Whenever I see a production at Lifeline, I’m reminded of just how resourceful staging can truly be in a small space. Too often, designers work in a solely horizontal fashion, but Lifeline always takes advantage of its high ceilings, building sets with multiple levels and stories to them; it’s a subtle move, but one that opens up the plays action in numerous ways.

And again, “Monstrous Regiment” is a damn funny play, both in its situations and its dialogue. It may not be for everyone — at two and a half hours, it’s not a short play by any stretch, and a more square viewer could be put off by its antics and complete disregard for anything resembling normal — but if you are willing to submit to Lifeline’s zany new world, you’ll be treated to yet another fine production from one of Chicago’s most endlessly innovative theater companies.

From Stage & Cinema

A Feminist Fantasy, Soaked in Whimsy
June 10, 2014
By Lawrence Bommer

In Lifeline Theatre’s semi-delightful 150-minute romp, the war between the sexes is replaced by a war against sexism. The latest adaptation from this literature-loving ensemble is Chris Hainsworth’s faithful adaptation of Monstrous Regiment, the 31st novel in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series. This prolific author manages to meld sword-and-sorcery, 18th-century fantasy, and a veddy English social satire of class conflict. The setting, as always, is the Disc, a mythical world that rides on top of a turtle that sits on an elephant. It’s a realm unsullied by logic but influenced by ever-changing gods: Here a tale told often enough becomes true due to the law of narrative causality. Expectations trump probability and belief alters everything.

The specific setting in Monstrous Regiment, engagingly staged by Kevin Theis, is war-torn Borogravia during Discworld’s Year of the Fruitbat. The specific situation: The country’s protracted hostilities against their blue-coated, putatively inhumane enemy, the Zlobenian invaders. (It’s the Disc’s latest war not to end all wars, much like the endless animosities in Game of Thrones.)

Fighting this pointless war (sound familiar?) is the title troupe, a ragtag rogues’ gallery. The “monstrous regiment” consists of Igor (Katie McLean Hainsworth as a hunchbacked medic); a vampire (volatile Michaela Petro) who requires constant cups of coffee to check her urge for blood; a visionary (driven Melissa Engle) whose auditory hallucinations emanate from the Duchess, Borogravia’s deceased figurehead; a Troll named Carborundum (amiable Justine C. Turner) who recall’s The Thing from the Fantastic Four; and our heroine Polly (attractively androgynous Sarah Price). This last, a plucky and resourceful adventuress, cuts off her hair, pads her privates with a sock and otherwise disguises herself as a man to search for her brother who got lost in the fog of war. She’s as wonderful to see as to hear.

The memorable misfits are led by a foul-mouthed, stentorian-shouting drill sergeant (louder-than-life Christopher M. Walsh), one of many Limey stereotypes in this fusion of Gilbert and Sullivan, Dr. Who, and Monty Python. Sgt. Jackrum is bossed around by an upper class twit of a lieutenant (a wonderfully addled Robert Kauzlaric) whose intractable stupidity, kneejerk misogyny, and inveterate snobbery get in the way of the soldiers’ survival instincts and common sense. Together this ragged regiment engages the Zlobenians in half-hearted captures and retreats. A final assault on the foe’s fortress ends up in a strange reversal, with Borogravians turning on each other.

That’s because of the running irony behind this regiment — it’s actually a petticoat army: These stalwart soldiers are women warriors, disguised in order to earn the right to defend their land, and to escape hard times at home and miserable relations with real (bad) men. By play’s end they prove their worth. But they’ve also changed the enemy: In the future, Borogravia will battle stupidity, a much more intransigent adversary and a much longer struggle.

A bit long for my liking, Hainsworth’s stage version doggedly reflects the author’s aggressive whimsy: gross-out jokes, groaner puns, glib one-liners, and heavy-handed caricatures. Happily, Hainsworth does equal justice to the rollicking fun of this picaresque plot, the anti-army spoofery, and some cunningly drawn characters.

With spunk and spirit, director Theis turns Pratchett’s silver into Lifeline’s gold, inspiring richly textured performances from 11 wickedly sharp thespians. Their crafted accents, systemic mugging, deadpan reactions, and character-rooted quirks are perfectly timed and always on target. Pratchett’s polemics about identity issues and the waste of war never get in the way of a good story. Keep calm and carry on…

From Showbiz Chicago

June 11, 2014
By Justin Allan Kimball

I must be up front with you, when I first heard that I was seeing the Lifeline Theater’s performance of “Monstrous Regiment” I had zero idea of what I was getting into. So, I went to the old “world wide web” to look up exactly what this play was about, AND… was confused even further. I asked someone who had read the novel and he replied with “It’s kinda like Mulan, but with monsters… and stuff.” With this very intriguing ideal in mind I entered the theater and was not let down at all. Kevin Theis (the director) took me on a fun filled, plot/brain twisting adventure that kept me laughing and more importantly… thinking.

To sum this up for you REAL quick, this production is set in the author’s (Terry Prachett) fictional and magical realm of “Discworld.” The exact location is “West Borogravia, the year of the Fruitbat” if we are going to be specific. The action surrounds a group of female soldiers dressed as men, a vampire, an igor and of course a troll. They have decided that they will join the army to defend their land and bring honor to their god like figure “the duchess.” SO now that you are caught up let’s get to it.

The technical aspects of this production really stood out as a big win for Lifeline Theater. When you walk into the theater you will first see a very strange, very exciting location for this play to be set. Scenic designer Joanna Iwanicka has created a tiny piece of this magical world that honestly.. I wanted to play on. The set is very tall and steep which gives the production a very apropos sense of danger throughout. Not to mention Kevin Theis was able to use the space to perfection. The large decaying painting of the duchess was an eery look into what kind of production this is going to be. Not to mention the fantastic use of shadow by the lighting designer, Kevin D. Gawley. LAST BUT CERTAINLY NOT LEAST, the costuming and puppetry (masterfully done by Emily McConnell and Kitty Campbell) were pretty much the bees knees. I would recommend seeing this show based off of the troll costume alone.

“But what about the acting Justin?” I’m glad you asked reader. There was some definite stand out performances in this production. The style of this play is very much in the vein of slapstick, bitty, mel brooks style comedy with a hard edge. The three “monster” characters (Vampire: Michaela Petro, Igor: Katie Mclean Hainsworth and the Troll: Justine C. Turner) really ALMOST stole the show for me. Very funny actresses who brought a realism to these outrageous characters. Robert Kauzlaric as Lt. Blouse and Christopher M. Walsh also gave some hilarious performances, which on a few occasions brought me to obnoxious blurting laughter, which is not so easy to do. Brava fellas.

As much as I enjoyed this production, there were some definite “flaws” involved. For one, it was entirely too long. I absolutely understand that the adaptor, Chris Hainsworth, had his work cut out for him due to the wordy, long winded aspects of this story but the second act dragged us down with SO much going on. We barely had time to swallow what we had before three more elaborate plot twists unfolded. I just need it sharpened up so I don’t feel like I’m missing important parts of the story and not let it drag. ALSO, the three girls that were not monsters felt a little one note. For the entire first act they kind of blended in with the scenery and when they finally got their moments, they felt rushed and not thoroughly explained. I just want to see more from them. AND FINALLY, the bits. I love me some bits, but on quite a few occasions they might have been over used/not followed all the way through. If you are going to do a bit, GO for it. Hopefully that will continue to be cleaned and tinkered with as this production goes onward.

Lifeline Theater should be very proud of this performance. A definite must see for the “smashing through the set” climactic moment at the very least.