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The perfect romantic comedy for summer’s end
|Babes With Blades Theatre Company presents|
Review by Katy Walsh
A starlet flips her lid as yucks cast an eyeball on the bum rap that she’s a sharecropper. The director’s ex snaps a cap over her active duty. Is it the wrong gee? Should she bust his chops or take a powder? Babes With Blades Theatre presents the world premiere of The Double. It’s 1940’s. Conspirators have rallied the gang together for a staged production of “Cyrano.” Offstage, notes exchange. Written communiques entice individuals to take a chance. But on the production or on love? Backstage, a scurry of activity positions the swashbuckling “Cyrano” to attract movie studio heads. In the wings, multiple real life love triangles threaten the show-must-go-on force. It’s a madcap love fest of mistaken flirtations. The Double is a triple threat as a comedy, romance, action play.
Playwright Barbara Lhota has penned a witty tribute to the fast-talking screwball comedy genre. The “Cyrano” premise is a clever backdrop for three love stories to unfold. Under the direction of Leigh Barrett, the talented ensemble bond together in collusion. There is a fun jocular familiarity that builds a strong fraternal vibe. It feels legit! I believe these actors are putting on a show of putting on a show because they want to hang-out together. Leading the laughter with an ode to Rosalind Russell is spectacular, wisecracking Lisa Herceg (Roz). Herceg zings every single line and sets off the laugh track inside my head. Furthering the concept of the play, Herceg doubles as the real-life spouse to Lhota. Herceg may have been running lines for years. And it shows, she’s hilarious! As the bumbling producer, Dan Foss (Saul) also gets plenty of chortles. In each of his exchanges, Foss deadpans a similar but inaccurate word as a descriptor. ‘I believe in monotony.‘ Foss prompts a giggle each time.
Because it’s Babes With Blades, there are fantastic sequences of dueling. Two in particular are most memorable. Brendan Hutt (George) and Kathrynne Wolf (Shirley) use the joust as coy foreplay. It’s a lovely, romantic skirmish. Later, in the showcase piece, Wolf plays the entire Mexican army. Wolf uses her physicality for impressive slapstick. In all the exchanges, Violence Designer Libby Beyreis stirs up the perfect amount of thrill and intensity without losing the playful intent of the show. Dance choreographer Alison Dorneggen created a complicated, frolicsome, 40’s number for Gillian N. Humiston (Minnie) and Kimberly Logan (Olivia). And Humiston and Logan dazzle! All throughout the show, Humiston and Logan are irresistibly adorable as the childhood chums. A nod out to Costume Designer Heidi Jade Warriner – she’s ‘ginned up‘ the cast in exquisite vintage finery.
Especially in a summer of lackluster romantic comedy movies, I highly recommend ordering up The Double! It’s the perfect nightcap for date night. And to double your Lhota pleasure, afterwards use your program to get a discount to Strangeloop Theatre‘s Strangers and Romance playing through September 18th at Trap Door Theatre, 1655 W. Cortland (more info).
Babes With Blades’ The Double continues through September 24th at Lincoln Square Theatre, 4754 N. Leavitt (map), with performances Thursdays and Fridays at 8pm and Saturdays at 2pm and 8pm. Tickets are $8-$25, and can be purchased online at BrownPaperTickets.com. More information at BabesWithBlades.org. (Running Time: Two hours, which includes a ten minute intermission)
All photos by Johnny Knight and Steve Townshend
behind the scenes
Leigh Barrett* (director); Libby Beyreis* (violence design); Sarah Burnham, Alison Dornheggen* (choreography), Jesse Gaffney, Amy E. Harmon*, Lindsey Lyddan, Kjerstine McHugh* (stage manager), Jennifer L. Mickelson*, Adam Smith, Heidi Jade Warriner (costumes); Steve Townshend and Johnny Knight (photos)
* denotes BWB ensemble member