Review: Her Majesty’s Will (Lifeline Theatre)

| June 21, 2017

 Javier Ferreira and Bryan Bosque star as William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe in Her Majesty's Will               


Her Majesty’s Will
Adapted by Robert Kauzlaric
  from novel by David Blixt   
Lifeline Theatre, 6912 N. Glenwood (map)
thru July 16  |  tix: $20-$40  |  more info
Check for half-price tickets    


World premiere is pure summer escapism


Bryan Bosque and Javier Ferreira star as Christopher Marlowe and William Shakespeare in Her Majesty's Will, Lifeline

Lifeline Theatre presents
Her Majesty’s Will

Review by Lauren Whalen

For all we know of William Shakespeare, several years of the iconic playwright’s early life remain a mystery. In his novel Her Majesty’s Will, Chicago author, actor and fight choreographer David Blixt imagines Shakespeare’s “lost years” as a swashbuckling adventure full of intrigue, mystery – and a friendship with fellow future playwright Christopher Marlowe. Lifeline Theatre’s adaptation – for which Blixt provides the violence design – is an Elizabethan spy caper and buddy flick. In their quest to protect the Queen, Shakespeare and Marlowe trade barbs, fight evil and, quite possibly, fall in love. Featuring two dynamic leads, exciting fight scenes and fantastic direction, Her Majesty’s Will is pure literary escapism, a smooth summer treat in period garb.

Javier Ferreira and Bryan Bosque star as William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe in Her Majesty's Will, Lifeline    Young Will (Javier Ferreira) is marooned in Lancashire, a wanted man in London for mysterious reasons. Living under an assumed name, he’s teaching reluctant students, bored out of his mind. Will’s always been intrigued by theater, but doesn’t have the formal education to even consider a career on the boards. Enter Marlowe (Bryan Bosque), who’s daring and charismatic where Will is straitlaced and reserved. When Marlowe offers Will a diversion in the form of espionage – God save the Queen – Will jumps at the chance, proving himself able with a sword and drawn in by Marlowe’s charms. But is Marlowe all he seems?

Beautifully adapted by Jeff Award-winner Robert Kauzlaric, Blixt’s plotting and characterization are inventive and inspired. Though the Shakespearean references get a little precious at times, the idea of Shakespeare and Marlowe as good friends and partners in crime is delicious. Their evasion of the dastardly Sir Thomas Lucy (Dan Cobbler) and bumbling through onstage roles, among other escapades, are funny and charming. Though Will is the protagonist, Marlowe is also relatable, displaying vulnerability and passion under his glib exterior. The two are surrounded by a quirky assembly of characters, from the boorish Cutting Ball (a hilarious, scene-stealing Mike Ooi) to elegant, witty lady-in-waiting Helena (Heather Chrisler, who also provides narration in a gorgeous speaking voice).

Though the script could be trimmed, Lifeline ensemble member Chris Hainsworth keeps the action running at a steady, fun pace, and Blixt’s fight choreography is as graceful as it is cutting. Scenic designer Eleanor Kahn keeps things simple with multiple levels and building block-like structures that move easily, and Aly Renee Amidei’s costumes are both lovely and era-appropriate.

Nonetheless, this is a show that belongs to young Shakespeare and Marlowe: the scrappers they were, and the controversial geniuses they’ll become. Casting director Lavina Jadhwani chose wisely and well with Ferreira and Bosque: Ferreira’s journey from uncertain to heroic is a compelling one, and his scene in which Will views his first play is incredibly memorable. Bosque is a willing foil, able and sharp, quick with his words and roguishly rash.

Shakespeare and Marlowe are immortalized through their plays, and though it’s historical fiction, through Her Majesty’s Will, we get a glimpse into the bold young men they once were. Lifeline’s world premiere is a pleasure from beginning to end: lighthearted with just enough heft to keep it from floating away. With strong direction and fight design, a great story and two excellent leading men, Her Majesty’s Will is a wonderful choice for a hot summer night.

Rating: ★★★½

Her Majesty’s Will continues through July 16th at Lifeline Theatre, 6912 N. Glenwood (map), with performances Thursdays and Fridays 7:30pm, Saturdays 4pm & 8pm, Sundays 4pm.  Tickets are $40 (military: $30, students: $20), and are available by phone (773-761-4477) or online through (check for half-price tickets at More at time: 2 hours 25 minutes, includes an intermission) 

Javier Ferreira and Bryan Bosque star as William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe in Her Majesty's Will   

Photos by Suzanne Plunkett 




Peter Greenberg (Robert Greene), Don Bender (Sir Francis Walsingham), Bryan Bosque (Christopher Marlowe), Heather Chrisler (Chorus, Helena of Snakenborg, Emily Ball), Dan Cobbler (Dick Tarlton, Sir Thomas Lucy), Javier Ferreira (William Shakespeare), LaQuin Groves (John Savage), Martel Manning (John Lyly), Mike Ooi (Cutting Ball), Justin Harner, Maggie Patchett, Cole Simon (understudies)

behind the scenes

Chris Hainsworth (director), Aly Renee Amidei (costume design), Robert Kauzlaric (adaptor), David Blixt (fight choreographer, original novel), Diane B. Fairchild (lighting design), Morgan Gire (assistant stage manager), Lavina Jadhwani (casting director), Eleanor Kahn (scenic design), Jeffrey Levin (original music, sound design), Alec Long (properties design), Jennifer McClendon (production manager), Caitlin McManus (assistant director), Annaliese McSweeney (dramaturg), Sam Moryoussef (master electrician, AV supervisor), Kate Reed (stage manager), Sarah Scanlon (assistant director), Joe Schermoly (technical director), Suzanne Plunkett (photos)


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Category: 2017 Reviews, Adaptation, Lauren Emily Whalen, Lifeline Theatre, New Work, Video, World Premier

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