The Two Towers | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Arts & Culture » Performing Arts Review

The Two Towers


Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe


THE TWO TOWERS, Lifeline Theatre. When I was in high school I pored over "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy, wore a Middle Earth T-shirt, and smirked to myself whenever I read "Frodo Lives" scratched into a cigarette-scarred sill in the boys' bathroom. Twenty years later J.R.R. Tolkien's cult novels seem overwritten, and the story takes forever to unfold. But Frodo's long journey to destroy a mystical weapon of mass destruction, a ring that gives its wearer power over all living creatures, still has the mythic resonance of a great fairy tale, suggests an allegorical meaning about nuclear disarmament, and boasts a charming band of elves, hobbits, dwarfs, and men.

It's not hard to see why Lifeline would want to continue its tradition of staging the trilogy, begun nearly three years ago when Kevin McCoy adapted the first book, The Fellowship of the Ring. James Sie and Karen Tarjan are responsible for adapting the middle volume--McCoy no longer lives in Chicago--and they've done a heroic job of boiling down this lengthy picaresque adventure. Fight choreographer-turned-director Ned Mochel mixes live action with puppetry to create a very entertaining, Tolkien-esque production, full of magic and fantasy without seeming childish or contrived. My favorite "special effect" involved a small cardboard castle and an army of tiny plastic Orc warriors--though in fact the only thing "special" about it was the quality of the storytelling, which made me want to believe the soldiers were real.

--Jack Helbig

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  →