By Don and Peggy Doman and Lavinia Hart.
The Revolutionists gives us a 200 plus years view of a France you’ve probably never seen or heard of before. Our historical view of the world in the past is presented and shared mostly by men and their decisions. Prepare for stepping into a different historical world – one that explores the rights of women while men were developing commandments regarding the rights of man.
Harlequin Productions presents historical evolutionists as seen and presented by author Lauren Gunderson. Director Lauren Love gives us a wonderful, “edgy, rebellious, Tina Fey-Amy Poehler, rolling kind of humor.” I loved the “You’re not the boss of me” attitude from the four realities and lives of Olympe de Gouges (played by Angela diMarco), Charlotte Corday (played by Victoria Austin), Marie-Antoinette (played by Helen Harvester), and Marianne Angelle (played by Amanda Kemp). The audience was sucked into their version of the world along with cheering them on as much as we could with laughter. The French “Reign of Terror” became an object that we and the characters saw as something to resist, alter, and remove. Within minutes of meeting each individual, we joined their ranks to give them support and hope for changing the world.
Scenic designer Jordanna Averett brings an airy, open setting that takes us inside the opulent home of Olympe de Gouges as she struggles with her inability to write about her passionate instincts. In simple, but chilling ways, her writer’s desk became the stand for beheading traitors to the cause of the rebellion and a neo-classic window transforms into a razor sharp guillotine. This imaginative set design allows for both comic elements of near farce and heart-breaking realities of courage in the face of doom. Perhaps the best gift from this set design is that it does not break the flow of language and movement established by the director and cast – it is a flow the entire audience enjoys at every turn of the plot. Another inventive addition to the play are the two “Fraternite” masks created by Mask Designer Cole Hornaday and Theater 22 for The Revolutionists.” The harsh, nightmarish visage of the revolutionary tribunal who sent over a thousand enemies of the revolution and many innocent idealists to their death by guillotine, tower above the heads of the four women before they are condemned. It’s a frightening image of mob power in a judicial wig held by one hand and an extended arm. The puppeteer then uses their other hand as the hand of the tribunal judge. It’s a brilliant touch, first seen in a rendition the sprite Ariel in Julie Taymor’s “The Tempest”, but used with great power in this production.
Charlotte Darling designs the beautiful 18th century costumes in an inventive look that captures the period, the essence of each woman and the humorous alongside the tragic components of the play. Ms. Darling does a first rate job and also thanks the volunteer costume crew for The Revolutionists. Harlequin Theatre Productions works with the most talented actors, designers, playwrights, directors and production staff you will see anywhere in the area. In looking to the leadership, we have to send thanks and high regards to Aaron Lamb Harlequin’s Producing Artistic Director.
Saturday evening, after watching and enjoying the entire “The Revolutionists”, written by Lauren Gunderson, it was hard to realize that much of the production was both hilarious and heart breaking. We enjoyed the entire evening. The four actresses Angela DiMarco, Victoria Austin, Helen Harvester, and Amanda Kemp were fantastic. You wanted their characters to have their dreams come true in France during 1793 French Revolution’s Reign of Terror.
Here are the Revolutionists . . .
Olympe de Gouges (played by Angela DiMarco) wrote The Rights of Woman and of the Female Citizen:
Charlotte Corday (played by Victoria Austin) was an assassin. Believing the Revolution was in jeopardy, fatally stabbed the revolutionary and Jacobin leader Jean-Paul Marat in his bath. Country girl, very serious, hardened by righteousness, never been kissed.
Marianne Angelle (played by Amanda Kemp) was a spy fighting against French colonial forces that enslaved people on the Caribbean island of Saint Domingue, now Haiti. Composite of several historical figures, including free Black women revolutionaries from the island nation. Tough, classy, vigilant, the sanest one of them all.
Marie Antoinett (played by Helen Harvester) was the royal Queen. She was the last queen of France. Blamed for single-handedly ruining France’s finances, thus creating the conditions for the Revolution. Bubbly, graceful, opinionated, totally unaware, unintentionally rude, and oddly prescient. She never had a real friend.
The stage setting was simple and yet eloquent.
SCENIC DESIGN – JORDANNA AVERETT
COSTUME DESIGN – CHARLOTTE DARLING
HAIR, WIG & MAKEUP DESIGN – MATTHEW MICHAEL
The Dolls were wonderful additions giving a slight feeling of authority and death.
Get your tickets soon. The production runs through September 23rd.
Order tickets – https://harlequinproductions.org/show/the-revolutionists/