Review: Neverwhere (Lifeline Theatre, 2018)

| June 18, 2018

Jose Nateras as Richard Mayhew, Aneisa Hicks as Hunter, and Matthew Singleton as the Marquis de Carabas in Neverwhere                 


Adapted by Robert Kauzlaric
   from book by Neil Gaiman 
Lifeline Theatre, 6912 N. Glenwood (map)
thru Aug 12  |  tix: $20-$40  |  more info
Check for half-price tickets    

Now extended thru August 12th


Dark and fierce ‘Neverwhere’ a can’t-miss epic fantasy


Jose Nateras, Samantha Newcomb, Michaela Petro and Dave Skvarla in Neverwhere

Lifeline Theatre presents

Review by Lauren Whalen

Neil Gaiman is a phenomenon for a reason: his stories contain a flawless blend of the fantastical and the deeply human. Neverwhere is no different, with its sky-high stakes, compelling characters of all shapes and sizes, and intriguing philosophy. According to the program notes, Robert Kauzlaric first adapted Gaiman’s novel for the Lifeline stage in 2010, and that production toured the States, Canada, Ireland and the UK. Last year, Kauzlaric learned that Neverwheres rights had been sold in such a way that he’ll no longer be able to produce the script, and thus, its final production (with a new team of collaborators) closes Lifeline’s 2017-18 season. A rich urban fantasy with a phenomenal cast, Neverwhere challenges us to think beyond the day-to-day and embrace the unknown.

Samantha Newcomb stars as Door in Neverwhere at Lifeline TheatreNeverwhere opens with Door (Samantha Newcomb), a young woman with magical powers, running from two assassins, the witty but deadly Mr. Croup (John Henry Roberts) and Mr. Vandemar (LaQuin Groves). Aboveground in London, Richard Mayhew (Jose Nateras) struggles with the endless paperwork of his day job and the incessant demands of his fiancée Jessica (Michaela Petro). Door wants to know why her family has been murdered, and Richard wants…well, he doesn’t know what he wants, and that’s a huge problem. When Door and Richard’s paths cross, things get interesting. And when they meet Hunter (Aneisa Hicks), a stoic and fierce bodyguard with an agenda of her own, the real adventure begins.

Lifeline Theatre is known for its stellar literary adaptations (the book that the production is based on is always on sale in the lobby), and this season has been especially stunning. From the silly and fun Sylvester to the gorgeous and tragic Anna Karenina to this Neverwhere, there’s been something for anyone and everyone. Neverwhere deftly plumbs the depths of the human imagination to ask the tough questions: who are we? What do we want? What price do we pay for our everyday lives? By dividing a major metropolis into the aboveground and the underground, Gaiman (and adaptor Kauzlaric) are able to fully realize the potential for simple kindness and depraved evil, and it’s beautiful to watch. Ilesa Duncan’s direction is intelligent and respectful, giving each character room to grow (and in some cases, to fully reveal just how far they’ll go to win).

John Henry Roberts as Mr. Croup, Jose Nateras as Richard Mayhew, and LaQuin Groves as Mr. Vandemar in Neverwhere

While I wish Alan Donahue’s set design had gone a little more creative than Lifeline’s standard two levels, the rest of Neverwhere’s production values are spot-on. Michelle Underwood’s projections go a long way in establishing the seedy yet magical London underground, and Aly Renee Amidel’s costumes are vivid and whimsical. As always, Lifeline boasts an ensemble of gifted and diverse actors. Standouts include Roberts and Groves’ natty and nefarious hit men, Matthew Singleton as the charismatic and duplicitous Marquis de Carabas, and the power trio of Newcomb, Nateras and Hicks, who deftly fight, explore and love without ever holding back. Neverwhere is a can’t-miss epic fantasy with deep meaning and dark humor, a fitting tribute to Gaiman and his boundless creativity.

Rating: ★★★½

Neverwhere continues through July 15th August 12th at Lifeline Theatre, 6912 N. Glenwood (map), with performances Thursdays and Fridays 7:30pm, Saturdays 4pm & 8pm, Sundays 4pm.  Tickets are $20-$40, and are available by phone (773-761-4477) or online through (check for availability of half-price tickets). More information at time: 2 hours 30 minutes, includes an intermission)

Photos by Suzanne Plunkett 




LaQuin Groves (Mr. Vandemar, Portico, Varney, Brother Sable, Hammersmith), Aneisa Hicks (Sylvia, Hunter), Jose Nateras (Richard Mayhew), Samantha Newcomb (Door), Michaela Petro (Old Woman, Jessica, Anaesthesia, Lamia), Michael Reyes (Gary, Lord Rat-Speaker, Fop With No Name, The Angel Islington), John Henry Roberts (Mr. Croup, Tooley), Matthew Singleton (Marquis de Carabas, Brother Fuliginous), Dave Skvarla (Old Bailey, Sales Agent, The Earl, The Abbot)

Understudies: Paul Chakrin, Jennifer Cheung, Kim Fukawa, Gary Henderson, Dakota Hughes, Oly Oxinfry

behind the scenes

Ilesa Duncan (director), Robert Kauzlaric (adaptation), Aly Renee Amidel (costume design), Alan Donahue (scenic & properties design), Andrew Hansen (original music & sound design), Becca Jeffords (lighting design), Michelle Lopez-Rios (dialect coach), Mike Oleon (puppet design), R&D Choreography (violence design), Maren Robinson (dramaturg), Michelle Underwood (projections design), Becky Bishop (stage manager), Suzanne Plunkett (photos)

Jose Nateras as Richard Mayhew, Aneisa Hicks as Hunter, and Matthew Singleton as the Marquis de Carabas in Neverwhere     Samantha Newcomb stars as Door in Neverwhere, Lifeline Theatre


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Category: 2018 Reviews, Adaptation, Extensions-Remounts, Lauren Emily Whalen, Lifeline Theatre, Video

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