In Lauren Gunderson’s “The Revolutionists” now in a well polished, and delightful production at Moxie Theatre through June 25th, the four women in her play are characterized as ‘badasses’.
It’s a good way of getting our attention right off the bat! Who doesn’t want a badass willing to fight for ‘Liberté, Égalite and Fraternité? Who else is going to dig in and speak out for the rights of women other than…well other women? “The symbol of the revolution is a woman.”
Keeping in mind that the play is set in Paris, France during the ‘Reign of Terror’ (1793). That was then. Today in 2017 women are still fighting for their rights. Think ‘Women’s March on Washington’.
Just recently Lamb’s Players Theatre in Coronado mounted a stunning production of Gunderson’s “Silent Sky” about little known astronomer Henrietta Swan Leavitt. A bit further back in 2016, New Village Arts Theatre in Carlsbad mounted “Emilie La Marquise Du Châtelet Defends Her Life Tonight”. To say that she is a defender of women’s rights would be an understatement of great magnitude.
In “The Revolutionists” we are introduced to four different women who are willing to die (well?) for their cause: Olympe De Gouges, Marianne Angelle, former Queen, Marie Antoinette and Charlotte Corday.
|Lisel Gorell-Getz, JoAnne Gloer, Cashae Monya and Samantha Ginn|
De Gouges (Jo Anne Glover) is a badass playwright who wants to write a play to “show the boys how a revolution is done.” History will vouch for three of the women mentioned.
Ms. Glover’s Olympe is witty and bright but not altogether sure about just how hard she wants to write this play. “Should it be a musical, a play within a play, a play for the ages? “We are in a singular moment in history, it’s our revolution now…” “I’m thinking a passionate socialpolitical comedy about women’s rights and-.”
The play opens with Olympe at her desk rewriting history. She has just fallen under the guillotine. “Well that’s not a way to start. Or end. And what idiot starts a comedy with an execution. Cut the guillotine. Oh the irony. Start again.”
But De Gouges is suffering from writers block. As France’s famous and most zealous feminist, her 1791 ‘Declaration of the Rights of Women and Citizen” she is in the forefront of a women’s movement, especially in the minds of the male population. Now she is at a loss for words.
Marianne is her trusted friend and ally as well as a free black woman who is pushing for support for the slaves and colonial independence in Haiti where her husband is now living.
Marianne Angelle (Cashae Monya) is a figment of Gunderson’s imagination but has an important role to play as the most grounded, most logical and the most sensible of the four.
Cashae’s Marianne is low keyed and speaks to the realities of the plight of slaves in the colonies. She is also the one character to keep Olympe on the straight and narrow when it comes to ideas about her writing this newly minted play about the revolution, which may or may not become a reality.
Corday, (the angel of assassination) is a badass country girl who breaks into Olympe’s salon by demanding that she needs a writer; “Where do they keep writers, I need a line.”
And to that we must add, she did have a final word at her trial: “I killed one man to save 100,000.”
Charlotte Corday (Samantha Ginn) knows she will die for her act of courage. She plans to kill Jean Paul Marat and makes no bones about it. She wants to make sure she is remembered and a needs someone worthy to write her last words before the guillotine comes down.
|Samantha Ginn as Charlotte Corday|
“I’m going to kill Jean Paul Marat by stabbing because he’s awful.” “He’s a terribly rashy little man that’s caused the deaths of thousands of innocent people with no tool as brave as a sword, no he uses words.”
Ginn, in keeping with her effervescence, comes to table with an abundance of energy almost too much, but nonetheless a showstopper when she actually pulls off the assassination.
The last but certainly not the least to break on to the scene is ex-queen Marie Antoinette (Lisel Gorell-Getz). “I’m not even a “highness” anymore, the jerks.” “Who wants a citizen for a queen?” “I’m here for a rewrite.”
|Lisel Gorell-Getz as Marie Antoinette|
Gorell-Gets is simply delicious as the ex-queen who doesn’t seem to understand why ‘one day she woke up in a palace and went to sleep in a prison-not exactly a prison-it was one of the lesser bedrooms’.
“The whole country would celebrate my birthday. How did it all turn into this rudeness and murder?” Her depiction of Marie is right on target and it’s fascinating to watch her facial expressions as she tries to understand her predicament. She just doesn’t get it.
Gunderson’s “The Revolutionists” is playful and good-humored, up to date, innovative, and with enough theatre references to give every theatre lover a chuckle. Her “Tramedy” Olympe’s words) is about three very real and courageous women.
The resilience, activism and tragic endings of those and others living through the “Reign of Terror” in France and wanted to make a difference are right on the radar range of current events.
|Cashae Monya, JoAnne Glover, Lisel Gorell-Getz and Samantha Ginn|
Missy Bradstreet’s wigs are one for the century, Jennifer Brawn Gittings costumes are perfect period, Sherrice Mojgani is credited for the effective lighting, Emily Small’s set suggests small guillotine’s in every patch of wood and Rachel LeVine’s sound design gives a sense of crowds in the background. No credit is given for the masks, but they are pretty frightening.
The production itself under the direction of co founding mother Jennifer Eve Thorn puts four very talented and yes, on target women at the forefront and gives them wings to fly.
There’s so much more to learn about these women in this playfully cooked up historical comedy, but do see it for yourselves and enjoy.
|Samantha Ginn, Lisel Gorell-Getz, JoAnne Glover and Cashae Monya|
See you at the theatre.
Dates: Through June 25th
Organization: Moxie Theatre
Production Type: ‘Trademy’
Where: 6663 University Ave. Ste. N. San Diego, CA 92115
Ticket Prices: $30.00
Photo: Daren Scott