'The Wayward Women' Features Strong Female Leads with Elizabethan Flair

Jul 12, 2017

Shakespeare often finds a home in American summer theater. From big professional companies like Utah Shakespeare Festival to amateur productions in community playhouses, the Bard is indeed made glorious in summer.

While The Wayward Women might not be a show by Shakespeare, it does pay tribute to him. That's part of why Milwaukee-based company, Theater RED, decided to mount their own production of the show. The play, written by Chicago-based playwright Jared McDaris, is described as a modern verse play in "Elizabethan style," and includes some very direct references to Shakespearean plays. 

Like the Bard's plays, The Wayward Women includes all sorts of word play, posturing, singing, and stage combat as well. But unlike Shakespeare, most of the lead characters in the play are women. 

"What's so cool about Wayward Women is you get these characters and archetypes that are traditionally male roles, inhabited by women," says Marcee Doherty-Elst, one of the founders of Theater RED. 

She and her husband, Christopher Elst, are the co-founders of Theater RED. The Wayward Women speaks to two of the company's main tenants: Producing shows with substantial roles for women and producing new works by promising artists. 

"It's inspired by Twelfth Night, and Twelfth Night is my favorite Shakespearean comedy, so it sounded perfect for the things that we like to do and we read it and it sounded hilarious," says Elst. "Then we saw it and it was even more hilarious, so we said, 'I want to do that.'"

The Wayward Women opens Wednesday, July 12 and runs through July 22 at the Alchemist Theatre in Bay View.