Only Kurt Vonnegut, with his sardonic wit, could turn a resigned, even mildly depressive phrase like "so it goes" into a punch line, as he does in Slaughterhouse-Five. And who could help but laugh at the postmodern Christian sect he invents, the Church of God the Utterly Indifferent, in 1959's The Sirens of Titan? Lifeline Theatre's bare-bones but carefully done staging of John Hildreth's adaptation remains true to Vonnegut's eccentric characters, odd sci-fi story, and playful way of batting around weighty ideas: free will versus determinism, God the loving father versus God the unmoved mover versus God the necessary fiction. For a short work, The Sirens of Titan covers a lot of ground, both literally--the story includes scenes on three planets and one of Saturn's moons--and figuratively: Vonnegut leaps from big idea to big idea like a talkative, well-read, mildly stoned undergraduate. What makes this production great, though, is the judicious cutting Hildreth and Lifeline have done. Leaner than both David Cromer's 1995 version of the same novel and Hildreth's previous Vonnegut adaptation--his 2002 take on Cat's Cradle--this show runs barely two hours, which feels about right. And Lifeline's playful approach to the satiric material mirrors Vonnegut's: space travel is represented by toy rocket ships on the ends of poles, and a Martian invasion by a squadron of paper plates spray painted a silvery gray. Through 4/3: Fri 7:30 PM, Sat 4 and 8 PM, Sun 5:30 PM. Lifeline Theatre, 6912 N. Glenwood, 773-761-4477. $18-$24.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Suzanne Plunkett.