‘Susan Swayne and the Bewildered Bride’: A madcap murder mystery with a gender twist

Kelly Yacono and Lisa Herceg in Babes with Blades’ “Susan Swayne and the Bewildered Bride.” Photo by Steven Townshend.

Susan Swayne and the Bewildered Bride, an energetic murder mystery romp by Babes With Blades ensemble member Reina Hardy, manages to insert some provocative thoughts around gender identity and independent thinking.

Ms. Swayne, a level-headed-to-a-fault member of the Society of Lady Detectives (SOLD), isn’t the type whom you’d want to cross in a dark London alley. In the grand Babes with Blades tradition, she’s quick with a sword or knife, ready to parry with vigor (sword choreography by Libby Beyreis). She’s also equally quick with a verbal jab, and can spot a scoundrel from 20 paces.

And 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.

When Swayne happens on the seemingly fragile Isabelle (Kimberly Logan), the “bewildered bride” who seems to have some sort of lead relating to a series of murders, she steps in, ready to try her hand at solving her first mystery. But, little does she and the other members of SOLD know what they’re getting themselves into. Cue a case of cross dressing, sword dueling and roustabouting.

Hardy’s script is fun and free-wheeling (though it does lose steam as the loose ends are sloppily tied together), and is ably supported by Dan Foss’ nimble and action-oriented direction. London’s inner sanctum is brought to life by scenic designer Dennis Mae’s panels, which are visually effective, yet clunky (particularly given the play’s numerous episodic scene changes).

Yet when the sword action takes center stage, all minor faults are forgiven. These ladies will cut a bitch, corsets or not.

“Susan Swayne and the Bewildered Bride” plays through September 22 at Lincoln Square Theatre. More info here >;

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