What happens when a playwright gathers together four formidable women who separately changed the world? It creates a powerful drama, with a whole lot of comedy, told in a way that is breathtaking and motivating. This is what Everyman Theatre has in “The Revolutionists.” Written by Lauren Gunderson, directed by Casey Stangl and features a four women cast, these 6 women together “The Revolutionists” tells the behind-the-scenes story of the French Revolution and how women’s rights were completely left out of the revolutionary manifesto, “Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen.”
Everyman Theatre should be commended for honoring women in this extraordinary evening of theatre.
Is “The Revolutionists” (set in 1793 France) a comedy based around a guillotine? To some extent, yes. There are comedic undertones here and there plus a few laugh-out-loud moments. But the deadly-serious situations these four heroines lived with is really the core of this production.
Lauren Gunderson brilliantly assembles her feminine foursome of former queen Marie Antoinette, assassin Charlotte Corday, Caribbean spy Marianne Agnelle and playwright Olypme de Gouges, Much of the action revolves around de Gouges, as the others look to her to provide the perfect words to write and say for the revolutionary deeds they are each determined to perform.
Charlotte Corday seeks a few words so profound that as she stabs political leader Jean-Paul Marat he, and hopefully France, will know that Charlotte’s is serious about her desire for a representative government. Marianne Angelle pleads for pamphlets excoriating the far-reaching power that France held over the island of Saint Dominque.
Beth Hylton as Marie Antoinette is a joy to watch. She lights up the stage and is everything I think a French queen would be and more: egotistical, self-obsessed and strong-willed. Megan Anderson plays Olympe de Gouges as a down-to-earth woman with wide-legged gaucho pants. Her costume allows her to sit and move around in “unladylike” positions and speaks to her strong personality and desire for women’s equality.
Emily Kester as Charlotte Corday burst on the stage determined to kill even though she will face certain death from the sharp blade of a guillotine. Kester doesn’t falter in her character’s convictions for equality.
Daniel Ettinger’s set and projection design is amazingly beautiful and solid. The projected monstrous guillotine is featured throughout the show. With an added zing and a flash of light the guillotine comes to life due to the excellent work by Lighting Designer Elizabeth Harper and Sound Designer C Andrew Mayer. Thanks to Casey Stangl’s deft directing, the pace clips along, and the almost stationary stage is well used.
Gunderson’s tells an important story of the power of women and how they are stronger together. This piece is very relevant in today’s environment. Everyman Theatre should be commended for honoring women in this extraordinary evening of theatre.
Running Time: Approximately 2 hours with one intermission.
“The Revolutionist” runs through January 7, 2018, at Everyman Theatre, 315 West Fayette Street, in Baltimore, MD. For tickets, call the box office at (410) 752-2208, or purchase them online.