Tuesday August 22nd 2017

“Pride and Prejudice”

Recommended *** Lifeline Theatre, in Rogers Park, is known for taking well known literature and adapting same into plays that can easily work on their intimate ( another word for small) stage, and  for the concluding production of their 29th season, they have chosen the work of Jane Austen, “Pride and Prejudice”. The adaptation by Christina Calvit, maintains the story line, but adds some charming touches of comedy to it. The play deals with status and reputation in a small town in England. The Bennet family, led by Mr. Bennet ( a solid performance by Don Bender), who with his wife ( Cameron Feagin, truly shines as this hysterical woman who fears that if her five daughters do not marry well, their lives will be destroyed) and the five daughters. It is important to note that during these days of yore, the first daughter is supposed to be the first to wed and then in order , each of the others.

Mrs. Bennet is prepared to take any measures to make sure that each marries well so they improve their “station” When the girls are invited to a ball to meet the new neighbor, Mr. Darcy ( Dennis Grimes) it is Lizzie ( the 2nd eldest) who clashes with his personality and his pride. As we watch the story blossom, it turns out that the relationship between these two independent people continues to clash until, as time goes on, we see that “opposites can attract” and that what appeared to be a wall between them disappears.

There are many playful twists and turns in this 2 1/2 hour production swiftly directed by Elise Kauzlaric on a set designed by Melania Lancy. For those of you who have not seen a production at Lifeline, the audience section rises from the floor, which is in fact the stage, and this set is built with some stairs and levels, so that the small space appears larger. To give the set the elite flavor that these characters deserve, colorful draperies mark the walls. There is only one set, but with a few pieces of furniture moved about and some very quality acting, we can stay with the story without ever questioning “who are they now?”. Bill Morey’s costumes are extraordinary for a low budget theater company- they look far more luxurious than they probably are.

The cast is a large one for this small stage, and yet even then, many actors take on several roles, so due to the intimacy of the theater, one could get confused as several times, you feel that one of the characters has changed personalities and yet, they appear to be who they were. Alas, that is the only major problem with this production. That being said, the entire cast is highly energetic in making these characters take what might be called a “soap opera” type story into a modern day love story.William Bullion, James Gasber, Kelsey Jorrison, Micah J.L. Kronlokken, Kirsty Rivett, Chelsea Paice, Amanda Drinnkal,Jan Sodaro, Cassidy Shea Stirtz, The very funny Phil Timberlake and of course Laura McClain as Elizabeth/Lizzie Bennet. Part of the closeness, we the audience get with her character is due to her speaking directly to us ( asides) and even taking refuge in the seating area. She is a delight to watch on stage.

“Pride and Prejudice” will continue at Lifeline Theatre through June 10th with performances as follows:

Thursdays and Fridays at 7:30 p.m.,Saturdays at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sundays at 4 p.m.

Tickets range from $32-$35 ( students $20 and Seniors $27) there are also $20 RUSH tickets per show, subject to availability that can be purchased at the box office half hour before show time. To order tickets, call 773-761-4477 or visit www.lifelinetheatre.com

Lifeline Theatre is located at 6912 N. Glenwood ( just a short walk from the Morse Avenue RED line stop) and there is free parking available at Morse and Ravenswood ( NE corner) with shuttle service to the theater and of course, after the show.

Post show discussions will be held following Sunday matinees on May 13th, May 27th and June 10th

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