By Reina Hardy
At the Lincoln Square Theatre
(4754 N. Leavitt, Chicago – in the basement of the Berry Memorial UMC)
Street parking available – or CLICK for lot location and to download a lot pass. (You MUST have a lot pass to use the lot.)
In addition to the standard swordplay, fight designer Libby Beyreis serves up an exemplary demonstration of Bartitsu wrestling (aka, Sherlock Holmes’ secret weapon), umbrella and sword-cane fighting, a flying-petticoat fracas utilizing an array of household objects, knifework with a grisly hashshashin dagger and a splendiferous surprise-finish to the final girl-power showdown. Oh, and did I mention that the women of S.O.L.D. execute these athletics dressed in corsets, bell skirts and frequently only their—ahem!—unmentionables, in locales ranging from millinery shops to opium dens? The fundamental test of action-oriented drama, however, is whether you’d still have a story if the stunts were diminished, or even eliminated altogether. Not to worry—Hardy’s script displays an articulate mastery of romantic-fiction conventions for this period, while director Dan Foss and a cast led by Lisa Herceg as the indomitable Swayne strike just the right note of proto-feminist audacity. It’s easy to envision Swayne and her feisty colleagues starring in a series of Steampunk-marketed graphic novels. - Windy City Times
The greatest weapon in this Babes With Blades premiere is the character with top billing. Unfailingly decorous and impeccably eloquent even when taking down an attacker with her umbrella or feinting with a sword in her unmentionables, playwright Reina Hardy’s Susan Swayne is a delightful creation. As the imperturbable Victorian lady detective, Lisa Herceg shoulders the play’s dialect and comically florid language with timing and wit. – Time Out Chicago
We were thoroughly entertained. The stage combat and sword play is exhilarating and intense while the characters are as amusing as they are confusing. We enjoyed the well written script and quirky sleuthing. From opium dens to underwear duels, this show is highly recommended! – ChiIL Mama
Filled with robust feminism and a distinctively humorous glint, Babes With Blades Theatre Company’s world premiere of Reina Hardy’s Susan Swayne and the Bewildered Bride is full of gothic delights mixed with the Babes’ universally acclaimed stage combat feats… Pulsing with a true sense of Victorian melodrama and broad humor, playwright Hardy creates a distinct world, here… Indeed, with Dan Foss’ on target, snappy direction and a wonderfully ominous original score by Christopher Kriz, one can almost feel the cobbled streets of the grimy districts of London below their seats. Kimberly G. Morris’ strictly perfect costume work and Libby Beyreis athletically enthusiastic fight choreography also add immeasurably to the evening’s fun escape. Foss’ work with his talented cast is, also, stellar. As Swayne, the seasoned Lisa Herceg is a delight, bringing many colorful layers to this assertive, always classy heroine. Kathryn Acosta, Megan Schemmel and Justine Serino, whom play her dedicated comrades, also crackle with authority and humor. Throw in the sophisticated work of Kimberly Logan and Kelly Yacono as the beleaguered couple and Hardy’s ultimately compassionate tale brims with juicy life. -Sheridan Road Magazine
Led by the titular Swayne (Lisa Herceg—mousy, comically adept, and throwing around a delightful lilt I could listen to all day), the society embarks on a series of knife fights, Britishisms, and period-appropriate double entrendres… The concept is cheeky, and the cast of Dan Foss’s Babes With Blades production demonstrate some fun, athletic swordplay. – Chicago Reader
Susan Swayne and the Bewildered Bride… is an energetic two-act play that manages to insert some provocative thoughts around gender identity and independent thinking… As played by the formidable and wry Lisa Herceg, Swayne comes across as a Mary Poppins type if Poppins had given up nanny work and settled for a cracker jack career of crime fighting… These ladies will cut a bitch, corsets or not. – Chicago Theater Addict
SUSAN SWAYNE AND THE BEWILDERED BRIDE is Agatha Christie with sass and ovaries of steel…. Playwright Reina Hardy has written a highly amusing play to showcase the swashbuckling talents of the Babes. The script is clever. A major plot-point is truly surprising. And these characters are the burning-corsets-rebels of their time period. Under the direction of Dan Foss and fight choreography of Libby Beyreis, the talented Babes verbally and physically duel with energetic refinement…. The entire ensemble captivates with fearless chivalry and Brit wit! – The Fourth Walsh
For 15 years, Babes with Blades has been a theatre company that delivers exactly what it advertises. In the case of Susan Swayne and the Bewildered Bride, the company not only meets audience expectations, but exceeds them…. It’s a mystery that also makes good use of dramatic irony, a farce that has some poignancy, and a feminist show with elements obviously geared toward men. Anyone who enjoys watching impressive swordplay by attractive women will naturally delight in this show, but it has a much broader appeal. I challenge anyone to attend and not come away with a smile. – Chicago Theater Beat
Meet Susan Swayne and the Society of Lady Detectives – aside from their interest in swordplay, they’re all perfectly proper Victorian women. Or are they? When the distraught Isabelle Fontaine-Kite insists that a member of the S.O.L.D. is actually her missing husband, Eric, Susan Swayne is on the case!
Originally submitted to BWB’s inaugural Joining Sword & Pen competition in 2005, Swayne began as a one act, and held the seeds of a story that we wanted to see grow. The script went through our New Plays Development Program in 2009, becoming a full-length in the process. And now, we’re delighted to present the world premiere!
Director: Dan Foss
Violence Design: Libby Beyreis*
CAST: Kathryn Acosta (Madeline/Charles), Lisa Herceg (Susan Swayne)*, Kimberly Logan (Isabelle Fontaine-Kite)*, Megan Schemmel (Adelaide/Fred/Bartholomew)*, Justine Serino (Lady Bomberry), Kelly Yacono (Katherine Denn)*
STAFF: Leigh Barrett (Lighting Design)*, Matthew Cummings (Props Design), Alison Dornheggen (Production Manager)*, Gillian N. Humiston (Assistant Violence Design)*, Christopher Kriz (Sound Design), Kathy Logelin (Dialect Coach), Dennis Mae (Scenic Design), Tara Malpass (Stage Manager), Kjers McHugh (Assistant Director)*, Kimberly Morris (Costume Design)
Dining in the area? The Babes enthusiastically recommend show sponsor The Grafton Pub!