Recommended *** For those of you unaware of the company, Babes With Blades”, they are an intriguing theatrical troupe that uses stage combat to place women and their stories right up front, center stage! Through their choice of scripts, training and outreach, they teach us to explore a little different look at life in the arts community as well as society itself. They are currently presenting a sort of “mystery”, “180 Degree Rule”. In this story written by Chicago playwrights Barbara Lhota and the late M.E.H. Lewis, we meet a film professor, Katie Dunham (portrayed by Kate Black-Spence) in search for a missing masterpiece of an obscure director “killed” pre-World-War II, at the height of her coming out as a director in a “man’s world”! The director, Ruth Alice Bennett (strongly brought to life by Amy E. Harmon) as it turns out may have been murdered because of her sexuality (she was a Lesbian, at a time when this was unacceptable) with the main star of the studio that employed her. The star, Margot Faber (deftly handled by the very stately Lisa Herceg), was adored and loved by all, but to the world, for Ruth, was forbidden fruit.
Directed by Rachel Edwards Harvith, this two hour production takes us deep into the lives of these women; the teacher, the director and of course the star. who herself wants to see the film that she has been told about for years. The story crosses many decades, from the 1930’s to the 1960’s as well as today, so one must pay close attention to the combination of today and yesterday used both onstage and with film projected on the back wall of the set (G. Max Maxin IV, who also designed the projection plan). Tim Tavano directed the photography portions of the play, with Carter Martin doing the actual direction and editing of same.
Libby Beyreis does some amazing work in violence and fight design/choreography and the lighting (Laura J. Wiley) and sound (Leigh Barrett) along with the costumes (Beth Lase-Miller) and the myriad of props (Kurt Brandt) complete the tech portion of the production. The musical backgrounds utilized as part of the production add a certain charm to the story and the time periods, making for an effective tool. The ensemble players who take on many roles do so quickly and with style. Tommy Burlington, Chris Cinereski, Kimberly Logan, Jason Andrew Narvy and Kelly Yacono. Great job!
This play is inspired by the pioneer women in the film industry during the 1920’s and 1930’s. While it is a mystery of sorts, relative to the death of the director, it is also about memories. Those who lived on recall details but others have slipped away. During the years, not remembering it all, people have a tendency to fill in the gaps on their own, making them seem real to themselves and those who they relate the stories to. Watch carefully and you can see how this is woven into the story being told by the Babes with Blades.
“180 Degree Rule” (by the way, I never heard the explanation for the title, which I think is about going “halfway”) will continue through May 21st at City Lit Theatre, 1020 Bryn Mawr, second floor, with performances as follows:
Fridays 8 p.m.
Saturdays 8 p.m.
Sundays 3 p.m.
Wednesdays, May 11th and 18th at 8 p.m.
Tickets are $22 (students and seniors $14) and can be purchased by calling 773-904-0391 or online at www.babeswithblades.org
Incidently, if you look at the site, you will see some special events associated with this show. Parking can be a problem in the area and I suggest the Redline a sthe Bryn Mawr station is just a long block away. The Sheridan Bus is also nearby.