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  The City and The City at Lifeline Theatre

The City and The City

Lifeline Theatre
6912 North Glenwood Chicago

Inspector Tyador Borlú of the Extreme Crime Squad is assigned to a seemingly open-and-shut case: an American student found dead in the gutters of the city of Besźel. But soon this deceptively simple crime reveals ties to powerful political and corporate factions at the heart of both Besźel and its twin city, Ul Qoma. Forced to cross the divide between two city-states coexisting in the same geographical space yet separated by irreconcilable cultural differences, Borlú must bring to justice the mastermind of the most unusual and dangerous case of his career. A thrilling crime story set in a location both fantastical and eerily real, in a world premiere adaptation. Based on the 2009 novel by China Miéville, winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award and the Hugo Award for Best Novel.

Thru - Apr 7, 2013

Price: $20-$35

Show Type: Drama

Box Office: 773-761-4477

Running Time: 2hrs, 20mins

Lifeline Theatre Seating Chart

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  The City and The City Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune - Somewhat Recommended

"...Christopher M. Walsh's adaptation certainly is smart and richly wrought, but it's also heavily dominated by narration and comes off as strangely static. This story is a hybrid of two genres - detective fiction and sci-fi - which makes it challenging, but job one still remains keeping us invested in who killed this young woman and why. That gets a little lost in all the talk, even as other scenes escalate too quickly . What the show most needs is the time-honored slow-burn, ideally fused with a little dangerous sensuality, avoided here, but ideal for border-crossings nonetheless."
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Chris Jones

Chicago Reader - Somewhat Recommended

"...It's a brilliant, funny, resonant conceit, and I can imagine what a seductive challenge it was for Christopher Walsh, who's adapted the novel, and Dorothy Milne, who's directed this world-premiere production for Lifeline Theatre. Milne's done an ingenious job of realizing Walsh's script, but the show fails anyway: the Beszel/Ul Quoma mindfuck is so complex that it demands either loads of confusing talk or a surpassingly elegant visual solution. Too often Walsh and Milne give in to the confusing talk. Still, this is one of the best failures you're likely to see."
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Tony Adler

Centerstage - Recommended

"...Schine is aided by a strong supporting cast, notably Marsha Harman as Corwi, Borlu's Girl Friday, Patrick Blashill as Dave Bowden, a formerly radical Anthropologist working out of Ul Quoma and especially Chris Hainsworth as Dhatt, Borlu's sarcastic Ul Quoma counterpart. Though the show can drag a little in its first third, it picks up once Borlu's search takes him into Ul Quoma and the truly tangled nature of this strange, yet familiar world begins to unravel."

Alex Huntsberger

Time Out Chicago - Highly Recommended

"...This is the backdrop for Inspector Tyador Borlú's investigation of a murder that forces him across the border, as it raises questions about the political establishments of both cities as well as Breach, the hypersecret authority that enforces their separation. Several fans of the book have asked me with incredulity in recent weeks how it could possibly work onstage; the answer is, pretty impressively. Adapter Christopher M. Walsh smartly compresses the cast of characters so they can be embodied by ten versatile actors, led by Steve Schine, who plays Borlú in the hardboiled-detective vein. He gets strong support from Marsha Harman as his eager and competent Besz right-hand woman and Chris Hainsworth as his straitlaced Ul Qoman counterpart. Dorothy Milne's simple yet specific staging and Izumi Inaba's costumes help suggest the two intersecting environments. An enjoyable potboiler with a unique twist, The City & the City is a great place to visit."
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Kris Vire

ShowBizChicago - Somewhat Recommended

"...this is a very complicated adaptation and could have been made clearer with a better interpretation from Christopher Walsh in creating the play, and in Dorothy Milne's direction. The narration by Steve Schine was very helpful. However, I am wondering if it may have been better if the narration was recorded, with Steve physically narrating at the beginning , rather than throughout the performance. As I stated earlier, the transition between the narration and character of Inspector Borlu was vague and sometimes confusing. The set was in front of building with multiple doors and windows, which took up stage space did not create an adequate space for street scenes and blocking. In my opinion, the set was too big for the stage and created much more confusion. The city street and demonstration scenes looked similar and created a blocking problem, which looked more like a picket line then what was required from the production. Therefore, the set design and the use of the stage were not used well."
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Russell Goeltenbodt:

Chicago On the Aisle - Recommended

"...If the idea of Big Brother watching your every move gives you the creeps, imagine trying to avoid attention if it's a crime just to look at the wrong person on the street or walk into the wrong store - because all the people and all the shops occupy common space shared by two sovereign city-states. Such is the fanciful setting of China Mieville's "The City & The City," a political murder mystery novel brought to the stage with panache and dark seriousness, as well as remarkable clarity, by Lifeline Theatre."
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Lawrence B. Johnson

Stage and Cinema - Highly Recommended

"...With inventive blocking, director Dorothy Milne and movement designer Amanda Link adeptly demonstrate the strangeness of people coming and going next to each other without acknowledging one another; a particularly well-orchestrated scene involves Borlu tailing a suspect. Costume designer Izumi Inaba plays up the difference in the two cities residents with their garb, with Beszel's dwellers clad in drab Eastern European-style clothes - wielding dated cellphones - while the more prosperous Ul Qumans sport vibrant neons and headphones. Scenic designer Joe Schermoly's set adds to the paranoiac atmosphere via a set of windows overlooking the stage; actors sometimes peek through the blinds and lights periodically go on and off, giving the constant feeling that you are being watched."
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Samantha Nelson

ChicagoCritic - Recommended

"...Once we grasp the quirky location and cultural divides between the two cities, then only the multi-layered definitions of just what and who breach is and what is the significance of a breach becomes they key mystery to be solved. If you can muddle through all this, then The City & The City might deliver enough spark to be entertaining. I thought the staging and the pace were brisk but the story lacked focus and clarity. The differences between the citizens of each city could be more distinct. But suspense fans and weird fiction fans will appreciate this ambitious work."
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Tom Williams

Let's Play at ChicagoNow - Somewhat Recommended

"...I'm a huge fan of Lifeline. The only other Lifeline show I didn't really care for was "Mrs. Caliban," which was also fantasy based. This show will appeal to a certain audience. THE CITY & THE CITY has cult following potential for sci-fi channel lovers. I'm just not it's target population. I'll geek out over "Three Musketeers" at Lifeline this Spring."
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Katy Walsh

Chicagoland Theater Reviews - Recommended

"...China Mieville has established himself as a major voice in the New Weird genre, which is a mix of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. There isn't any horror in "The City & the City" and not much science fiction, but there is fantasy aplenty. The portraits of the twin police states suggest Mieville may have a satirical agenda, but if so, I didn't pick up on it. Audiences can treat his story as an imaginative and dense, not to mention talky, mystery tale with lots of side trips into the ambiguous and the sinister."

Dan Zeff

  The City and The City 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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