Lauren Gunderson’s meta-theatrical, contemporary-voiced Revolutionists imagines a 1790s France awash in violence and blood in which activist playwright Olympe de Gouges (Jo Anne Glover) is struggling to articulate the turmoil in her homeland and stand up for her gender. In the process, she encounters the deposed Marie Antoinette (Lisel Gorell-Getz) and a political assassin (Samantha Ginn), both of whom want their stories told as the guillotine looms. Olympe’s best friend, Marianne Anelle (Cashae Monya), is a composite character based on Gunderson’s research into the concurrent Haitian Revolution. Perhaps not coincidentally, this character’s conviction throughout the play resounds loudest.
Directed at Moxie Theatre by Jennifer Eve Thorn, The Revolutionists, in spite of its historical setting, is a hip and relevant comedy replete with self-conscious quips about writing, theater, even audiences. Yet its sober side, that devoted to justice, personal liberty and women then and now standing up for themselves, is charged and insightful. What might be awkward exposition succeeds on the basis of a resourceful cast unafraid of operating in both worlds. Further enhancing this production are scenic and projection design by Emily Small, Jennifer Brawn Gittings’ period costumes and, of course, Gunderson’s incisive script. (Initially published in San Diego CityBeat on 6/7/16)
David L. Coddon is a Southern California theater critic.