This Town Hall Theater produced comedy is a relatively new theatrical production written by the highly praised playwright, Lauren Gunderson, entitled, The Revolutionists. While technically this is a play with music and song, I would not exactly classify it as a musical. It is primarily a very dark, humorous, thought-provoking and provocative comedy that focuses on the actions of four women that exemplifies the lack of justice afforded women during the French Revolution’s Reign of Terror in 1791. The play is based upon a hypothetical meeting between playwright Olympe de Gouges (Olop de Guuz), and three other women of that time period. They were more than sympathetic to the injustice borne by women of that period, and thus were tried for treason and sent to the guillotine by the male establishment, primarily because they were women expressing opinions and doing work contrary to the male dominated political mindset of France at that time.
The central thesis of this play is built around three women seeking the writing skills of Olympe de Gouges (Sarah Mitchell), in seeking public understanding and support when they became at odds with society. The first woman to seek her assistance in creating flyers and brochures was Marianne Angele (Kimberly Ridgeway), a political activist fighting for the right of black slaves on the island that today is known as Haiti. The second was Charlotte Corday (Heather Kellogg), a young woman who intended to assassinate a political rival, Jean-Paul Marat. She was seeking the right words to say at what she knew would be her execution at the guillotine, for the crime of assassinating this man. The third woman was Marie Antoinette (Suzie Shepard), the former Queen of France who had been dispossessed of her title and position, primarily due to her suspected but unproved political improprieties.
Probably what I appreciate most about this play other than the brilliant acting, timing, and importance of this production’s emphasis on gender inequality that still exists in this country today, is its introduction to me of author and feminist and political activist, Olympe de Gouges (Olop de Guuz), and her death-invoking public declaration known as the “Declaration of the Rights of Women and the Female Citizen”.
The subtext of this play is about our values in society, where women’s contributions are often treated with suspicion and lack of appreciation. It asks us to recognize that women do not have the same standing in society as men, even in this day, and that many of the great statements and motivators of progress in this country have been those of women.
The story is almost entirely a creation of Gunderson’s creative thought process and is a delightful evening of character development and fanciful contemporary rhetoric based in some part on facts emanating from the reign of terror in France.
Director Susan E. Evans has delivered a nearly laugh a minute interpretation of this clever work. The set design by Lilliana Duque Pineiro is modern and artfully superb. Costumes designed by Hope Birdwell are quite excellent.
I highly recommend this play which continues Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM, with Sunday performances through October 14 at 2 PM the production closes on October 20. This Town Hall theater company production is in production at the Town Hall Theater at the corner of Moraga Road , 3535 School St., Lafayette. Tickets are $27 to $30 for Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings, and $25 to $27 for Sunday performances. Tickets may be secured by calling 283-1557 or by going to www.townhalltheatre.com or may be purchased or picked up at the box office inside the theatre just prior to the performance.
Photo Credit: Jay Yamada
Image actors L to R: Sarah Mitchell & Kimberly Ridgeway