This Babes With Blades Theatre Company world premiere is a rowdy, rollicking spoof of 18th-century English Restoration comedy, infused with fast-paced farcical energy and lots of swashbuckling swordplay. A product of Babes With Blades's Fighting Words Program—which develops new works that place heightened language on a par with stage combat in the storytelling-Arthur M. Jolly's play concerns 15-year-old Trothe (Deanalís Resto), the daughter of a nobleman, who is in love with a flamboyant poet (Felipe Carrasco). After her father is murdered, Trothe learns that the only way she can protect her inheritance is either to marry a famous Prussian swordmeister or to beat him in a duel. To the rescue come Trothe's aunt Theodosia (Megan Schemmel), the finest swordsperson in England, as well as Trothe's scheming maids, Penelope (Kate Booth) and Tilly (Ari Kraiman). Tilly dons a fake mustache to masquerade as the Prussian—a stratagem nearly thwarted when the real Prussian (Amanda Forman) shows up.
Directed by Morgan Manasa with fight choreography by Samantha Kaufman, the show takes the conventions of classic comedy—cross-dressing and mistaken identity, witty repartee laced with puns and double entendres, slapstick violence, satirical commentary on gender and class divisions—and ramps them up with a nonbinary 21st-century perspective. The actors' performances are impressively athletic and exuberantly exaggerated, and the convoluted plot revels in its own improbability. Best of all, this production is genuinely family friendly, with multiple levels of humor designed to appeal to both kids and grownups. v