Last night, I saw Monstrous Regiment at the Lifeline Theater in Rogers Park. It’s an adaptation of a book by Terry Pratchett by the same name. Lifeline Theater puts together adaptations of many books. Several years ago, we saw an adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere, which was quite good. I was particularly excited to see this adaptation. I came to enjoy Terry Pratchett only recently. I head read Good Omens and thoroughly disliked it that I decided I never wanted to read another Pratchett book. (I knew I liked Neil Gaiman so that was cool). A wise friend recommended I give him another shot and recommended Guards! Guards! It was the beginning of the end. I have many books to read of Pratchett’s, including Monstrous Regiment but that’s a happy quest.
I thought the play was well done. It’s a story about a young girl who pretends to be a man so she can join the ragtag army to find her brother. Her fellow soldiers include a vampire, a troll, and an Igor. The regiment ends up in the middle of the war. It’s a wonderful satire about war and patriotism. There’s this wonderful bit when they are trying to figure out why they are fighting. Then the troll, who isn’t the brightest crayon in the box, says (paraphrasing), “We fight because Borogravia is home. Good or bad.” What a great way to summarize it all. In this war, they are fighting for their home even if the cause is good or bad.
The play was vivacious, interesting, and captured the spirit of Terry Pratchett. I was curious how they were going to catch the pithy remarks by the narrator, which I love best about his work. For those of you who have not read books by the author, he makes these wonderful, snarky comments about Morris dancing (which I happen to love), laundry, etc. I think they managed to convey that humor well.
The acting was good but Michaela Petro who played Maladict, was phenomenal. Maledict is a coffee-drinking vampire who abstains from human blood. She managed to convey the aristocratic, java obsessed vampire so well. She was a pure joy to watch throughout the play. She is someone to watch for in the Chicago theater scene. Also Katie McLean Hainsworth, the actor who played Igor, was amazing too. She really got into the character in her posture and pose.
Lifeline did a nice job with the staging. It’s a small theater with no curtain but they make excellent use of the stage. It’s a multilayered stage with doors at various points. They made wonderful use of fog and lightening too.
My only critique has to do with ending, which was contrived. But that’s likely a feature of the book rather than the play.
It runs until August 3rd! Go see it before the regiment ships out of town.