Recommended Theater: WOMEN BEWARE WOMEN (Blue in the Right Way at The Edge Theater in Chicago)

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by Nia Liat on January 4, 2024

in Theater-Chicago

Chicago theatre company, Blue in the Right Way, formed to make provocative, stylized theatre as visual art, presents its inaugural production, Women Beware Women, a queer, feminist version of Thomas Middleton’s 1621 psychosexual revenge tragedy. Freely adapted by Kevin V. Smith and Daiva Bhandari, Smith’s abstract, expressionist staging will feature elements of drag performance and modern dance. Driven by the company’s desire to make English-language theatre more accessible to Chicago’s Spanish-speaking population, this masterpiece of early modern literature has been translated into Spanish for the first time. From April 27 to May 12, 2024, each performance will be presented with Spanish supertitles, translated by Sonia Perelló.

Thomas Middleton’s 1621 psychosexual revenge tragedy tells the story of the devastating effects of the patriarchy on an entire society. A captivating and clever widow, Livia, orchestrates the futures of two young women and sets in motion a wicked game of subversion and deceit. But when the mastermind breaks with social convention herself, she finds out how far the men around her will go to constrict her autonomy. In this new queer feminist take, the lacerating personal narration of two surreal transfemme drag queens frames Middleton’s timeless tale, rushing it into the here and now. Smith and Bhandari’s adaptation dives deep, excavating the social frameworks of gender violence and the gender of violence, as the story hurtles towards a devastating and outrageous new ending for our modern times.

The cast includes Lynne Baker (Mother); Daiva Bhandari (Livia); Kidany Camilo (Solange); Ryan Wright Cassidy (Hippolito); John Zhou Duncan (Ward); Rich Adrian Lazatin (Cardinal); Shail Modi (Sordido); Johnny Moran (Fabritio); Huy Nguyen (Duke); Keenan Odenkirk (Guardiano); Christin Prince (Bianca); Nathe Rowbotham (Clara); Mia Van De Mark (Isabella); and Brandon Wiman (Leantio).

Understudies are Nigel Brown (Duke/Cardinal); Mary Mikva (Livia/Mother); Bree Perry (Solange/Clara); McGuire Price (Leantio/Sordido); Kelcy Taylor (Bianca/Isabella); Garvin Wolfe van Dernoot (Guardiano/Hippolito); and Dryden Zurawski (Ward/Fabritio).

The artistic and production team includes Courtney Abbott (intimacy director); Xuan Chen (scenic designer); Juan Contreras-Kirby (wig, hair and makeup designer); Sam Flipp (stage manager); Anna Gelman (production manager); Emma Ladji (sound designer); Catherine Miller (casting director); Leo Mock (intimacy consultant); Alaina Moore (costume designer); Josh Munden (technical director); Eme Ospina-López (video and projection designer); Keith Parham (lighting designer); R&D Choreography (Rick Gilbert and Victor Bayona (violence designers); Hayley E Wallenfeldt (properties supervisor) and Chris Wood (sound engineer).

Women Beware Women
The Edge Theater, 5451 N. Broadway
previews April 27, 28 at 7:30; opens April 29 at 7:30
Wed-Fri at 7:30; Sat at 1 and 7:30; Sun at 3
scheduled to end on May 12, 2024
run time approximately 2:45 including intermission
for tickets ($20-$40), visit Blue In The Right Way

Daiva Bhandari (photo by Christopher Semel)

At the forefront of the avant-garde theater scene in Chicago for more than a decade, KEVIN V. SMITH’s queer feminist deconstructionist approach to directing combines the surreal and the expressionistic to create daring and visually arresting abstract stagings. A four-time Non-Equity Joseph Jefferson Award-nominated actor, Smith was named “Best Actor of the Year” by Chicago Stage Review, starred Off-Broadway in the notorious production of Jean Genet’s The Maids X 2 and has acted under Tony Award-winning directors Mary Zimmerman and David Cromer. Smith has trained extensively in Viewpoints and Grotowski techniques both domestically and abroad.

DAIVA BHANDARI is a theatre and dance artist with a performance career spanning nearly two decades. An expressive and dynamic performer, Bhandari endeavors to stretch the limits of her imaginative and emotional capabilities, seeking work that deepens her training and engages her creative curiosity. As an actor, Bhandari has worked onstage with The Neo-Futurists, Steep Theatre, Steppenwolf, Manual Cinema, Theatre Y, The Building Stage, Pop Magic Productions and Emerald City Theatre, and she has performed the choreography of Michael Estanich, Lucy Vurusic-Riner, Corinne Imberski, Kelly Anderson and Erin Kilmurray. A company member with RE|dance group since 2010, she has toured in evening-length and site-specific works throughout the United States.

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