One Came Home

February 13 – April 5, 2015
Thu & Fri at 7:30pm, Sat at 4pm & 8pm, Sun at 4pm

“★★★½ Tough, tender and remarkably honest about how complicated — and yet paradoxically simple — the truth can be… One day the skies are filled with birds as far as the eye can see, but before you know it they’ve been silenced forever. One Came Home presents that trajectory of loss with heart and grit. ”  –Chicago Tribune

“★★★★ One Came Home is achingly on the mark. It tells a subtle, very accurate story about growing up that plays perfectly with the strangeness, romance, and action of its Western roots.”  –Time Out Chicago

“All the company’s strengths are on display in this world premiere”  –Dueling Critics

During the great passenger pigeon migration of 1871, throngs of strangers descend upon Placid, Wisconsin, bringing prosperity in their wake. But as the skies clear, tragedy strikes and Georgie Burkhardt’s sister goes missing. When a body is found and the town goes into mourning, Georgie sets out on her own to uncover the truth behind Agatha’s disappearance. The journey that follows, both humorous and heartbreaking, will test the limits of her courage and the strength of her character. A powerful coming-of-age tale combines live music with historical events in a world premiere adaptation based on the 2013 novel by Chicago-based author Amy Timberlake, a Newbery Honor Book and Edgar Award winner.

A world premiere based on the historical adventure by Amy Timberlake 
Adapted by Jessica Wright Buha 
Directed by Elise Kauzlaric

Special Performances
Audio Description and Touch Tour
Saturday, March 7
Touch tour: 2:30pm
Performance: 4:00pm

Open Captioning
Friday, March 13 at 7:30pm

Visit our Accessibility page for more information.

Highlights from One Came Home 

  • Patrick Blashill (Sheriff, Mr. Garrow)

    Patrick has been an Ensemble Member with Lifeline since 1996. Favorite Lifeline productions include NeverwhereThe Piano Tuner (After Dark Award: Outstanding Performance), Lizard MusicThe Talisman RingPistols for Two (Non-Equity Jeff nomination: Ensemble), The Story of FerdinandThe Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death (remounted for Chicago Theatre on the Air with guest star Brent Spiner), and 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, spanning The Fellowship of the Ring (Bilbo Baggins), The Two Towers (Frodo Baggins), and The Return of the King (Frodo Baggins). Other Chicago credits include Long Day’s Journey Into Night (Eclipse), The Sea (Theatre Mir), A Number (Backstage), Eurydice (Filament), Journey’s End (Griffin), and Emma (Reverie).

  • Heather Currie (Ma, Mrs. Garrow)

    Heather is a proud Lifeline Ensemble Member, where she was most recently seen as Mrs. Fairfax in Jane Eyre. Other Lifeline Theatre credits include: Click Clack BOO! A Tricky TreatClick, Clack, Moo: Cows That TypeDooby Dooby MooDuck for President (the premiere in 2008 and the 2012 revival); and How To Survive a Fairytale. Last summer, Heather was The Wicked Witch in WOZ: A Rock Cabaret at Victory Gardens Theater. Heather holds an MFA in Acting from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and currently teaches in the department of Cinema Art + Science at Columbia College Chicago as well as the Motion Picture and Television department at College of DuPage. Heather can also be heard singing many Saturday nights in The Nitz and Howe Experience at Davenport’s Piano Bar and Cabaret.

  • Ashley Darger (Georgie)

    Ashley is thrilled to be making her Lifeline Theatre debut! Recent Chicago credits include: The Children’s Hour (Pride Films and Plays) and Number the Stars (GreatWorks Theatre Company.) Ashley is a graduate of the Second City Conservatory and the iO Improv Training Program and frequently performs in sketch comedy and improv throughout the city. She received her BFA in Theatre from Stephens College.

  • Dan Granata (Olmstead)

    Dan is pleased to return to Lifeline, where he previously appeared in A Tale of Two CitiesHungerMrs. Caliban, and Neverwhere. Elsewhere in Chicago, his work includes The Master & Margarita (Strawdog), K. (The Hypocrites), The League of Awesome (Factory), and Arcadia (New Leaf, for which he was Jeff-nominated for Supporting Actor as Bernard Nightingale). Dan served as producer for Forks & Hope Troupe’s The Hunting of the Snark at the 2014 Edinburgh Festival Fringe, as well as the continuing voyages of the USS Sisyphus with The Improvised Star Trek.

  • Jeff Kurysz (Billy)

    Jeff is very excited to be making his Lifeline Theatre debut. Other Chicago credits include: Wilhelm Grimm in Hansel and Gretel: A Wickedly Delicious Musical (Emerald City Theatre); Venticello 1 in Amadeus (Boho Theatre); Romeo in Romeo and Juliet (Teatro Vista); Claudio in Much Ado About Nothing (The Arc Theatre); Chris Keller in All My Sons (Eclectic Theatre); John in Dark of the Moon (New American Folk Theatre); Richmond in Richard III (Wayward Productions); Fortinbras in Red Hamlet(Red Theater Chicago, Company Member) He was also seen in a recurring role on NBC’s Crisis and is represented by Big Mouth Talent.

  • Amanda Jane Long (Agatha)

    Amanda is very pleased to appear in her first production with Lifeline Theatre. Chicago credits include: AmadeusVeronica’s Room (BoHo Theater); Macbeth and The Bear (Organic Theater Company). Favorite regional credits include many of Shakespeare’s finest women with Bag&Baggage Productions (Oregon) and Stellaluna with Tears of Joy at the Center for Puppetry Arts (Atlanta). Amanda trained at Northern Illinois University (MFA Acting), Southern Oregon University (BFA Acting), and the Moscow Art Theatre School. She is the Director of Programs and Marketing at Stage 773 and a Company Member/Marketing Director at the Organic Theater Company.

  • Errol McLendon (Grandfather Bolte)

    Errol is so grateful to finally have the opportunity to work with Lifeline Theatre. Other Chicago credits include: Just So StoriesHunting of the Snark (Stawdog Theatre); EndgameEnemy of the People (Red Tape Theatre); All Rise (Walkabout Theatre); Point Break Live (New Rock Theatre). Regional credits include: Of Mice and MenAll My Sons (Dallas Theatre Center). International credits include: Hunting of the Snark(Edinburgh Fringe Festival).

  • Miriam Reuter (Polly, Martha)

    Miriam makes her Lifeline debut. Other Chicago credits include: Macbeth(Chicago Shakespeare Theater), Tom Jones (Northlight Theatre), 50 Shades of Shakespeare ((re)discover theatre), and Gambit (Artemisia). Regional credits include Henry V and The Recruiting Officer with Montana Shakespeare in the Parks. Miriam received her BFA in acting from Webster University, and is a founding member of (re)discover theatre.

  • Emily Goldberg (Understudy)

    Emily is incredibly grateful to make her debut with Lifeline Theatre on this beautiful show. She received a BFA in Musical Theatre from The Boston Conservatory. Recent performance credits include Sisters of Swing at Fox Valley Repertory, Evita at Jedlicka Performing Arts Center, Alice in Wonderland at The Marriott Theatre, and Oliver at Light Opera Works. Up next, she will be performing in City of Angels at Porchlight Music Theatre.

  • Rachael Hancz (Understudy)

    Rachael is thrilled to join Lifeline Theatre as they bring Amy Timberlake’s story to the stage. Previous Chicago credits include: Dylan (Red Theater Chicago) and The Woman in Black (First Folio Theatre). Regional credits include: Alladin and Robin Hood (Prairie Fire Children’s Theatre); and The Goodbye GirlJack and the BeanstalkAesop’s Fables, and House at Pooh Corner (Tibbits Summer Theater). Rachael received her BA in Theatre Performance from North Central College in 2012. She is a proud SAG-AFTRA member and Equity Membership Candidate represented by Ambassador Talent.

  • Jay Mast (Understudy)

    Jay is ecstatic to be working with Lifeline Theatre for the first time! Most recently, Jay has been seen on stage with Emerald City in Hansel and Gretel, and Charlotte’s Web at the Broadway Playhouse. These young audiences were the best welcome to Chicago since he moved here last year. When not on stage, Jay can be found in the kitchen cooking delicious food, rocking out to Franz Liszt on the piano, or getting lost while running.

  • Ben Muller (Understudy)

    Ben is extraordinarily pleased to be working for the first time with Lifeline. Other Chicago credits include: Mr. Knightley in Emma (Dead Writers Theatre Collective); Jane/Lord Edgar in The Mystery of Irma Vep (Piccolo Theatre), and as one half of the clown duo Bubble and Trubble at Evanston’s Custer Street Fair. Ben is an ensemble member at both Piccolo Theatre and the Dead Writers Theatre Collecteve, and also holds a BFA in acting from the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University.

  • Jessica Wright Buha (Adaptor)

    Jessica is excited to collaborate with Lifeline once more, having previously adapted Lyle Finds His Mother for the company. Locally, her writings have been performed by the Goodman Theatre (The Things Above, New Play Bake-Off 2014), Filament Theatre Ensemble (Moon Rhymes), WildClaw Theatre (Alabama Mermaid, winner, Deathscribe 2011), the Plagiarists (War Song), and the Whiskey Rebellion (Wake: A Folk OperaKodachrome Telephone). Upcoming writing projects include an adaptation of Sherlock Holmes and the Solitary Bicyclist, to be performed by Filament Theatre Ensemble in July 2015, and an adaptation of James Joyce’s Ulysses, to be performed by the Plagiarists in Spring 2016.

  • Elise Kauzlaric (Director)

    Elise has worked with Lifeline since 1998 and has been a member of Lifeline’s artistic ensemble since 2005. At Lifeline, she has directed A Tale of Two CitiesThe Woman in WhitePride and PrejudiceWuthering HeightsMariette in Ecstasy (Non-Equity Jeff Nomination: Direction) , Arnie the Doughnut, and The Emperor’s Groovy New Clothes; adapted The Velveteen Rabbit and Half Magic; coached dialects for many productions; and appeared onstage in NeverwhereQueen LuciaTalking it OverStrong Poison, and many others. Outside of Lifeline, she directed Irish Theatre of Chicago’s production of Dancing at Lughnasa, dialect coached numerous shows around Chicago, and has appeared on stage at Goodman Theatre, Apple Tree, City Lit, Circle Theatre, First Folio, and Griffin Theatre, where she received a Non-Equity Jeff Nomination for Supporting Actress for On the Shore of the Wide World.

  • Sarah Hoeferlin (Stage Manager)

    Sarah is absolutely thrilled to be working at Lifeline for the first time. Other Chicago stage management credits include: Great Expectations and Miss Marx: or the Involuntary Side Effect of Living (Strawdog Theatre); The NutcrackerPloughed Under: An American Songbook, and Iron Stag King: Part One (House Theatre); Death and Harry Houdini (ASM, House Theatre); How Long Will I Cry? (ASM, Steppenwolf for Young Adults); and Hit the Wall (ASM, The Inconvenience).

  • Aly Renee Amidei (Costume Designer)

    Aly is a proud member of Lifeline Theatre, where she has previously designed costumes for The Three MusketeersThe Count of Monte CristoThe Woman in White, and Watership Down. She is also the artistic director of WildClaw Theatre and an ensemble member at Strawdog. Her costume and makeup designs have been seen at Michigan Shakespeare Festival, Irish Theater of Chicago, Buffalo Theater Ensemble, Stage Left, Artistic Home, House Theater, Piven Workshop, and Vitalist Theater. She works as the costume and makeup coordinator for the College of DuPage theater and dance department.

  • Alan Donahue (Scenic & Properties Designer)

    Alan has designed numerous Lifeline shows over the last twenty-plus years. He most recently designed scenery for Lyle Finds His Mother and lighting for the 2014 revival of The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs! at Lifeline. Away from Lifeline, he provided designs for the Silver Dollar City Wild West Show in Branson and Avenue Q at the Mercury Theatre Chicago. He has also adapted Donald E. Westlake’s Trust Me on This and Adam Langer’s Crossing California for the Lifeline MainStage and Daniel Pinkwater’s Bongo Larry and Two Bad Bears and Eileen Spinelli’s Sophie’s Masterpiece: A Spider’s Tale for the KidSeries. Come May, he creates the environs for Soon I Will Be Invincible.

  • Diane D. Fairchild (Lighting Designer)

    Diane is thrilled to be returning to Lifeline again this season. Past designs at Lifeline include the Non-Equity Jeff Award-winning A Tale of Two Citiesand this fall’s The Velveteen Rabbit. Design credits include productions at Rivendell, Next, Boho, Raven, Babes with Blades, TimeLine, Northlight, Chicago Dramatists, City Lit, Redmoon, Court Theatre, INTIMAN, Trinity Rep, Wheaton College and the Michigan Shakespeare Festival. She is a proud member of USA829, Rivendell Theatre Ensemble, an Artistic Affiliate with BoHo Theatre, and part-time faculty at The School of the Art Institute Chicago.

  • Amanda Link (Dramaturg & Assistant Director)

    Amanda joined the Lifeline Ensemble in 2013. She directed The Velveteen Rabbit (2014) and The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs! (2014) and has appeared in Click, Clack, BOO! A Tricky TreatDuck For President(2008 and 2012); How To Survive A Fairy TaleDooby Dooby MooHalf Magic; the extension of Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle (2009); and many performances with the Lifeline Storytelling Project. She also choreographed and assistant directed The Emperor’s New Threads, assistant directed and did movement design for The City & The City, and assistant directed Pride and Prejudice. Other credits include work with Factory Theater, Griffin Theatre, and The Mill.

  • R & D Choreography (Violence Designers)

    R&D Choreography is over the moon to be working with Lifeline Theatre once again! Some of our favorite Lifeline projects include NeverwhereWatership Down, and The Count of Monte Cristo. R&D was founded in 1997 by David Bareford and Richard Gilbert. In 2011, we were joined by Victor Bayona. We have designed violence for over three hundred productions at dozens of Chicago area theatres, including About Face, ATC, Bailiwick, Circle, First Folio, Griffin, National Pastimes, Oak Park Festival Theater, Pegasus, Piven, Profiles, Strawdog, Theatre at the Center, Theo Ubique, Trapdoor, and Vitalist.

  • Kate Reed (Assistant Stage Manager)

    Kate is thrilled to be working with Lifeline Theatre again after serving as assistant stage manager for Jane Eyre and Monstrous Regiment. Her previous stage management credits include The Duchess of MalfiBye 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.

  • John Szymanski (Original Music & Sound Designer, Music Director)

    John is very happy to be making his Lifeline Theatre debut. Recent Chicago credits include music and sound for Pseudo-Chum (The Neo-Futurists), Alice (Upended Productions), Tollbooth (First Floor Theatre), Ulysses 101 and The Whiskey Radio Hour (The Whiskey Rebellion). He is an Artistic Associate with The Neo-Futurists, and is active throughout the Chicago area and beyond as a musician, composer, audio engineer and producer.

From the Chicago Tribune

February 23, 2015
By Kerry Reid


Amy Timberlake’s “One Came Home” has a distinct whiff of “True Grit” in its bones, with a dash of Ian McEwan’s “Atonement.” But in Lifeline Theatre’s world premiere adaptation by Jessica Wright Buha, the story of Georgie Burkhardt’s search in 1871 Wisconsin for her elder sister often feels tough, tender and remarkably honest about how complicated — and yet paradoxically simple — the truth can be.

As far as the small town of Placid, Wisc., is concerned, Agatha Burkhardt came home in a pine box, her mangled remains identifiable only through the blue-green ball gown she cherished. She left in a buckboard driven by “pigeoners” — hunters of the passenger pigeons that turned central Wisconsin into the largest recorded nesting ground for the birds in 1871. By 1914, of course, the species would be extinct.

The juxtaposition of the birds’ looming fate with Agatha’s doesn’t always mesh smoothly in director Elise Kauzlaric’s staging, though Alan Donahue’s bird puppets capture the distinctive size and color of the pigeon whose migrations once darkened the skies for days. But when the story focuses on Georgie’s stubborn refusal to accept Agatha’s extinction and her journey to discover the truth in the company of Agatha’s one-time beau, Billy, it hums. Buha’s narrative seamlessly weaves together the flashbacks to the days before Agatha’s disappearance with Georgie’s quest, aided greatly by John Szymanski’s stark-but-nostalgic original music, played live on guitars and percussion by the ensemble.

Ashley Darger’s Georgie is a motormouth with dead-eye aim with a gun, thanks to her grandfather’s tutelage. Her eagerness to shoot birds disturbs tender-hearted Agatha (Amanda Jane Long), who asks her “Why be rough when you can be kind?”

It’s a good question, and one of the great strengths of this production is that Darger’s Georgie, like Mattie Ross in “True Grit,” isn’t necessarily likeable, despite her obvious moxie. She’s self-righteous and quick to judge what she doesn’t understand (which is where the “Atonement” parallel comes in). Georgie not only needs to test her mettle on the open road as part of her rite of passage into adulthood — she also needs to learn that she still has a lot to learn.

Darger’s febrile take on Georgie is well balanced on her journey by Jeff Kurysz’s even-tempered but on-the-verge-of-exasperation Billy, whose own motivations aren’t always what they appear. The differences between the sisters in the flashbacks sets Long’s Agatha up as a dreamer with a pragmatic streak. “I know how to walk so no one hears me,” she tells Georgie. “I know the secret places.”

Often, those secrets are hiding in plain sight. Donahue’s rough-hewn set with its thicket of bare branches and Diane D. Fairchild’s rich color-and-shadows lighting suggest that abundance and scarcity nestle side-by-side in both nature and the human heart. One day the skies are filled with birds as far as the eye can see, but before you know it they’ve been silenced forever. “One Came Home” presents that trajectory of loss with heart and grit. Like the best young-adult stories, it’s sure to resonate far beyond the target audience and hit the hearts of those wondering just how our relationships took the turns that they did, and whether we can find our way back home.

From Time Out Chicago

February 28, 2015
By Kevin Thomas


A quietly tragic young-adult Western about sisters. Not a sentence I ever expected to write, but with One Came Home Lifeline Theatre brings to the stage an adaptation that not only achieves its usual standard of excellence, but also, unusually for an adaptation, presents a new and unpredictable story.

Certainly that’s in part because the source material is very current. Timberlake’s novel was published in 2013 to widespread praise, and while I now wish I’d read it, I’m also glad I didn’t — Jessica Wright Buha’s adaptation would pass for an original stage play if you didn’t know better. Georgie (Ashley Darger) is a rough and practical 13-year-old in 1870s Wisconsin who loved her older sister Agatha (Amanda Jane Long), even if Georgie couldn’t understand her interests in a life beyond Placid. But something between them went wrong, Agatha ran off, and two weeks later a faceless corpse wearing her best blue dress is carted into town. Everyone accepts Agatha is dead — except Georgie, who sets out into the prairie to find either her missing sister, or a target for her gun.

Scattered memories of the past flutter in and out of focus as Georgie sets out on her quest. At first the constant flashbacks are almost annoying, in the same way that Georgie does not start as a particularly lovable protagonist — she’s all spunk with no charm. But One Came Home’s real story becomes clear as it progresses, just as the play itself becomes smoother and more captivating.

It becomes apparent that we’ve been seeing things through Georgie’s eyes, but all the fire and gumption in the world can’t cover up the naive tween’s confusion. The more mistakes she makes, and the more her journey refuses to be what she hopes, the more lovable and sympathetic she becomes. As her clichéd Western adventure fails, the curtain rolls back to reveal her ignorance and errors back home, before Agatha’s disappearance.

One Came Home opens with a tragedy, but one that our heroine hasn’t yet accepted. So we wait bated breath while Georgie explores the flowing beige-and-grey prairie set designer Alan Donahue has built for her, where the only signs of life are the birds. It’s going to come to her eventually, and that tension invests every little discovery with painful importance, and just a little bit of hope.

If anything, creating Georgie’s initially narrow worldview makes the cast’s performances reserved and distant for too long. Like the rest of the play, they come alive only when things go very wrong for Georgie, and push back against her stubborn opinions. But that’s a small flaw in a brilliant scheme. This is a piece that digs into the limited perspectives of sisters at different points in life. Georgie and Agatha loved each other very dearly, even when they fought. But each suffered from the myopia of youth, their individual pretty pictures constantly shaken when the other’s perspective nosed in. One Came Home is achingly on the mark. It tells a subtle, very accurate story about growing up that plays perfectly with the strangeness, romance, and action of its Western roots.

From the Dueling Critics

February 22, 2015
By Kelly Kleiman


Lifeline’s stock in trade is stage adaptations of literature, and all the company’s strengths are on display in this world premiere version of an Edgar Award-winning and Newberry Honor novel by Amy Timberlake. We’re quickly immersed in the story of Georgie Burkhardt, a rebellious teenager in post-Civil War Wisconsin whose sharpshooting skills come in handy when she insists on following the trail of a sister everyone else believes has been murdered. As adapted by Jessica Wright Buha and directed by Lifeline stalwart Elise Kauzlaric, this is in no sense a “children’s show,” though the protagonist is a young adult. Georgie’s grief wars with her belief as her hostility to her sister’s beau turns to interest; these are all fully-rounded and fully-adult emotions, particularly as expressed by Ashley Darger, whose face changes expressions as readily as her character’s finger hits the trigger. And the overall production — including set and properties by Alan Donahue, costumes by Aly Renee Amidei and original music (folk-influenced and period-perfect) by John Szymanski — transform Lifeline’s challenging space into a world complete with fluttering pigeons, woodland refuges and happened-upon body parts. Want American history? — forget American Girl dolls; forget even “True Grit.” See One Came Home.


A Passion Play From Placid
February 23, 2015
By Lawrence Bommer

Like a baby on a breast, Lifeline Theatre thrives on adaptations of “coming of age” novels. Like many memory-rich predecessors, Jessica Wright Buha’s clear and present stage version of One Came Home, Amy Tinderlake’s “heroine journey” best-seller from 2013,hangs on seminal turning points. Buha efficiently establishes clear relationships among boldly drawn characters about whom you care sooner and longer than you expect. Elise Kauzlaric completes the labor of love, staging this small-town mystery thriller with tensile timing and unexcelled casting.

Saluting literal sisterhood and enriched by John Szymanski’s guitar backdrop, the story celebrates the plucky, stubborn, and resilient persistence of tomboy Georgie Burkhardt (Ashley Darger, firing on all cylinders). This turbulent teen comes from the glacially scoured, sparsely wooded fields of erroneously named Placid, Wisconsin in 1871 (the year of the deadliest fire to ever hit the state–but, strangely, that’s not in the play despite the specificity of the year). The biggest–and most lucrative–event to excite this remote settlement is the annual passenger pigeon migration. The big sky processions attract hordes of hunters, like sharpshooting Georgie. (The flocks are delightfully depicted by actors manipulating Alan Donahue’s fluttering puppets.)

But feisty Georgie’s sole concern right now is her disappeared older sister Agatha (ardent Amanda Jane Long). A redheaded, intellectually curious and independent minded, heartland lady, Agatha dreams of homesteading in Minnesota with handsome Billy (winsome Jeff Kurysz) or running off to university in Madison, where there are a lot more books than she can read in Placid. Agatha is clumsily wooed by Billy and also by hotelkeeper Mr. Olmstead (Dan Granata), the town’s magnate and owner of ornate books for Agatha to adore. Complicating the courtships is Agatha’s rival Polly (Miriam Reuter), a pioneer woman born to bust sod.

But this is all backstory, effectively told in flashbacks: Our worry is Agatha’s unexplained and uncharacteristic departure for destinations unknown. Worse, scattered body parts have been found downstate, with shreds of the blue ball gown that Agatha took with her. The town is plunged into sorrow. Agatha, as they presume her to be, is buried with fond recollections from her God-fearing grandfather (Errol McLendon) and disconsolate ma (Heather Currie).

But ever contrary Georgie won’t believe her sister is dead. She just can’t feel that much absence. She rents a mule from Billy, who refuses to let this “small fry” go alone. The unlikely twosome set off to find Agatha or her killers, wherever it takes them. Along the instructive way, the cumulatively courageous duo meet helpful strangers and “pigeoners.” The travelers slowly appreciate each other’s no longer threatening extremes–Georgie’s reflexive hunches and “big brother” Billy’s protective caution. Georgie even falls for the dashing farm boy as they become each other’s Samaritans of choice. The hunt takes them all over the Badger State. They meet all kinds, including nasty renegades called the Gowers and enter a cave that discloses more than one crime. Agatha’s fate is, of course, not to be revealed by even the slightest spoiler.

It’s enough to praise taut plotting by author and adaptor: The 150 minutes pass fairly fast, fueled by our curiosity as much as Georgie’s dogged quest. The staging, ingenious and resourceful as its source, employs tall ladders to depict horses and wooden platforms to double as coffins, counters in stores, and blocked doors.

Equally supple, Lifeline’s eight-member ensemble commit to these characters, inside and out. They’re super-served by Donahue’s wonderfully evocative Wisconsin winterscape, its rolling fogs subtly suggested by a spectral scrim and Diane Fairchild’s impressionistic lighting. Szymanski’s sound effects tell stories in their own right. Aly Renee Amidei’s equally earth-toned costumes could have stepped out of period mezzotints: Their instant nostalgia provides the best illustrations an author could wish. A good yarn grows into a great memory.