Strong Poison | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Strong Poison 

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STRONG POISON, Lifeline Theatre. Lifeline ensemble member Frances Limoncelli has adapted Dorothy L. Sayers's 1930 mystery novel--not one of her best--into a sleek, witty romantic romp that also gently probes the changing roles of women and the fluctuations of class in Britain after World War I. Director Dorothy Milne's ensemble deftly captures the trends of the day--from intellectually wispy spiritualism to raucous, outrageous bohemianism--giving the production a marvelously solid sense of time and place.

One of the play's highlights is the banter between genial amateur detective Lord Peter Wimsey (Peter Greenberg) and the prisoner he's trying to exonerate--Sayers's alter ego, mystery writer and fallen woman Harriet Vane (a deliciously strong, sparkling Jenifer Tyler), suspected of murdering her lover. Overall Limoncelli has captured the warmth and verve of Sayers's characters, especially the lady detectives in Wimsey's "cattery," who do most of the footwork. Bustling around scenic designer Tom Burch's wall of overstuffed file cabinets, they glory in their roles as new women finally free to use their wiles for something other than seduction.

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