Chicago Theatre Review
'Monstrous Regiment' a Glorious, Hilarious Absurdity
Monstrous Regiment – Lifeline Theatre
“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.
Reviewed by Peter Thomas Ricci
Presented May 30 – July 20 by Lifeline Theatre, 6912 N. Glenwood Ave.
Tickets are available by calling 773-761-4477 or by visiting www.lifelinetheatre.com.
Additional information about this and other spectacular area productions is available at the one, the only, the indefatigable www.theatreinchicago.com.