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  Watership Down at Lifeline Theatre

Watership Down

Lifeline Theatre
6912 North Glenwood Chicago

When their birthplace is destroyed, brothers Hazel and Fiver lead a misfit band of survivors on a quest for a new home. Confronted with insurmountable dangers on all sides, the refugees must join forces with unexpected allies and conquer their deepest fears in order to endure. Join a pair of unlikely leaders in the adventure of a lifetime, in this unforgettable story of survival against impossible odds. A stirring adventure, re-imagined for the Lifeline stage by the award-winning adaptor and director of “Johnny Tremain.”

Thru - Jun 19, 2011



Price: $20-$35

Show Type: Drama

Box Office: 773-761-4477

Running Time: 2hrs, 20mins; one intermission

www.lifelinetheatre.com


Lifeline Theatre Seating Chart


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  Watership Down Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune - Recommended

"...Staging Richard Adams' wonderful 1972 novel “Watership Down” requires actors to play rabbits. Mercifully, though, the intense new dramatic adaptation at the Lifeline Theatre well understands that these creatures in the story have nothing in common with the Easter Bunny. Ears and fluff have no place in a rabbit world born of a trickster's spirit and built at the cost of lapine blood."
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Chris Jones


Chicago Sun Times - Recommended

"...Rabbit alert! If you suddenly find yourself shifting from walking to hopping mode, and are beginning to feel a peculiar twitch about your ears, it might just be that you have spent some time at Lifeline Theatre. That is where “Watership Down,” John Hildreth’s adaptation of the bestselling 1972 fantasy by English author Richard Adams, is now onstage in a highly imaginative if somewhat plot-heavy production zestily directed by Katie McLean Hainsworth."
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Hedy Weiss


Chicago Reader - Highly Recommended

"...Where Adams had the luxury of relying on the reader's imagination, Kate McLean Hainsworth's ace cast have to sustain the conceit for two hours using body language. And they succeed with wit and style. Each cocked head and thumping leg makes a specific, emotionally-resonant contribution to the narrative. John Hildreth's script navigates the story's many turns clearly and economically, while Hainsworth's direction keeps the wheels turning in a satisfying, vigorous rhythm."
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Dan Weissmann


Windy City Times - Highly Recommended

"...The cast assembled by director Katie McLean Hainsworth for this intricately-conceived world premiere production, adapted from the Richard Adams novel by John Hildreth, has trained extensively for their roles, deftly manipulating Joanna Iwanicka's ethnoprimitive masks and Aly Renee Amidei's tribal-identified costumes to forge distinct personalities keeping us always cognizant of each individual's goals and temperament. The ensemble interaction is impeccable, but look for Christopher M. Walsh's mohawked Bigwig and Jesse Manson's feisty feathered Kehaar to occupy the spotlight in audiences' memories. Highest honors, however, go to stage manager Erica Foster, who tracks the many elements comprising our dramatic universe with a precision as agile as—well, rabbits on the run."
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Mary Shen Barnidge


Time Out Chicago - Highly Recommended

"...While watching a dozen actors pretend to scratch and hop about for a couple of hours might chill the heart of the most stalwart theatergoer, Lifeline’s physically adept ensemble emphasizes the sharply drawn personae of the different rabbits: reluctant leader Hazel, sardonic bruiser Bigwig (Christopher M. Walsh), brash Silver (Bryson Engelen). Wenhai Ma contributes a projection-centered design both trippy in true ’70s style and effective in abstractly conveying the often brutal violence."
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John Beer


ChicagoCritic - Recommended

"...That actions is swift as we cheer for the good rabbits to overcome the evil thrust upon them. The cast worked hard to tell the story- I especially like the work from Paul S. Holmquest, Scott T.Barsotti and Christopher M. Walsh. Dave Skvarla is a delicious evil one while Jesse Manson’s gull was a comic hero.  Lifeline Theater has another worthy stage adaptation of a famous novel with Watership Down. Hop on over to Rogers Park as see this fun show."
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Tom Williams


Chicago Stage Standard - Not Recommended

"...Adams drew on his own real life military experience in the Netherlands during the 1940's to give the rabbits' fantastical quest for survival and home a human parallel.  But the theatrical adaptation confounds the quaint and gentle folklore by throwing too much at us.  The Lifeline production incorporates occasional creepy-looking ceremonial masks, as well as projections of abstract art by Wenhai Mai.  Although impressively ambitious, the whole affair with adult actors jumping about grew wearisome very quickly.  It is possible that with more foreknowledge of the book and its intricate characters and adventures, this performance may make more sense.  Unfortunately, Lifeline's "Watership Down" left this audience member wanting to just hop, hop, hop away."

Joe Stead


Let's Play at ChicagoNow - Highly Recommended

"... Playwright John Hildreth adapted Richard Adams novel for the stage. Hildreth starts the action with a creation story. During this folk tale, gifts are bestowed on animals. The fable narration continues intermittently throughout the show between the bunny exodus action. Chronicling El-ahrairah's legendary escapades serves as a base to understanding rabbit history."
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Katy Walsh


Chicago Theater Beat - Recommended

"...Watership Down is a faithful adaptation fit perfectly for the Lifeline Theatre aesthetic. It could certainly have gone in a more fanciful and spectacular direction (imagine a stage full of Easter bunny suits), but Hainsworth’s concept along with Aly Renee Amidei’s contemporary costumes (the farm rabbits’ preppy clothing is a gas) keeps the characters and themes of the story relatable and grounded for us human observers. This certainly requires your mind to fill in some gaps in the imagery, but for the willing audience member, the effort is well worth the journey in the end. With a dedicated and creative ensemble tackling this largely fascinating adaptation, I think it’s safe to say, “Lifeline has done it again.”"

Jason Rost


  Related Articles

A Hare-aclitean Saga: Acting Like Rabbits In Watership Down
From Theatre In Chicago
Mary Shen Barnidge

  Watership Down Photo Gallery

   This show has been Jeff Recommended*

*The designation of "Jeff Recommended" is given to a production when at least ONE ELEMENT of the show was deemed outstanding by the Joseph Jefferson Awards Committee.


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