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'The Drowning Girls': A Tale of Women Lifting Each Other Up

Renaissance Theaterworks
Poster for 'The Drowning Girls'

The plot reads like something out of a tabloid. Over the course of three years, three women all marry the same man. Not at the same time, of course. But they befall the same fate - murdered for their trouble. The fact that this is a true story just adds to the intrigue.

Renaissance Theatreworks opens their season with The Drowning Girls, based on the true stories of "The Brides in the Bath" murders in England, during the early 1900s. 

Director Mallory Metoxen says she was drawn to the play because it went beyond the facts of the actual crimes, and delved into the lives of the women. 

"This play takes those facts, and makes it into a beautiful, poetic story about the women behind these facts."

George Joseph Smith is the real-life serial killer responsible for these murders, but his crimes went far beyond that. Smith was a con man who married more than half a dozen women (legally and illegally). Most of them were picked for the same reason: they were wealthy. He would often rob them and leave without a trace. 

Suzie Dueker, Elyse Edleman, and Marcee Doherty-Elst all star in the production, playing the three women Smith murdered, whose names in real life were: Margaret Elizabeth Lloyd, Alice Smith, and Beatrice Williams. 

Edleman says the play is a way of reclaiming the identities of these women. "This is our chance to tell our stories, to go through our lives and to also have catharsis in a way, to connect with one another and to regain our power," she says, "and we do that."

Edleman says there is a real power in having all three women tell their stories on stage, together. "There really is, for women, strength in numbers. We are quite actually, at the end of this play, stronger together," she says. "It would be one thing to tell the story by myself, but it is so much easier when I have other people cheering me on and lifting me up, other women."

The Drowning Girlsopens Friday and runs through mid-November.

Bonnie North
Bonnie joined WUWM in March 2006 as the Arts Producer of the locally produced weekday magazine program Lake Effect.