Quote of the Day: Written by a millennial, this play is smart, snappy, witty, and wise, with morsels of real history spread throughout. It’s a wild ride, so buckle up, keep your ears and eyes open, and enjoy the experience! notes from the director, Shelli Place, on the play The Revolutionists by Lauren Gunderson.
I had this one on my must-see list this spring. I’m a huge fan of playwright Lauren Gunderson, one of the most produced playwrights in America, who has created three delightful spin-offs of Jane Austen’s characters in her Pemberley Christmas series. I’d heard good things about this historic play, and I was excited to see it come to life on stage, a Prime Productions play on stage at Park Square Theatre in St. Paul, MN. Sadly, Park Square has cancelled its remaining shows for this season as it regroups after several difficult years. They welcome your donation to keep the theater running.
The show opens with playwright Olympe de Gouges (Alison Edwards) struggling to write a play. She was known for her plays depicting the politics of the times and women’s rights and abolitionism. Marianne Angelle (Tia Marie Tanzer), a free Black woman from Haiti, enters and gives her some advice and talks her through plot ideas. She is in France to fight for the end of slavery. Charlotte Corday (Jasmine Porter) is a would-be assassin, who earns the nick-name Angel of Assassination. Also in the room where it happens is Marie-Antoinette (Jane Froiland) who at first seems flippant, then serious, then tragic as the play progresses. Once accused and arrested, these women had little hope of a fair trial. Madame Guillotine makes a swift decision.
The set (design by MJ Leffler) has Olympe’s writing desk at the center, with large wooden doors on one side and an ominous set of wooden stairs leading up to the gallows on the other. The costume (Sonya Berloviz) and wig designs (Bee Tremmel) add to the characterization of these four women. An article in the playbill by Nancy Monroe explains the use of color and style for each character, as well as the art of designing wigs to match the character as well as the actor. They were spectacular.
Projections on a screen at the back of the stage (Lily Isaacson) provide interesting effects from a candelabra to a bloody blade slowly rising for its next victim. Sound design (Anita Kelling) and lighting (Karin Olson) are very effective in influencing mood, focus, and dramatic moments. The dark realities of the guillotine and unjust trials are softened by clever dialogue and humor. The cast is brilliant, giving such personality to these women, wit and wisdom, indeed.
You can see The Revolutionists, a Prime Productions play at Park Square Theatre in St. Paul, MN through April 16, 2023. Try the signature drink, Madame Guillotine, it’s delicious and sets the mood with its blood red color.
Go. Create. Inspire!
Journaling Prompt: Who are some women in history that you admire?
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Such a dark spot in history.