By Lilian Harrington
Lisa Hickey as Olympe de Gougesand Amanda McErlean as Marie Antoinette
By Lauren Gunderson (USA)
Directed by Micheal Beh
The Curators Theatre
9 Chippendall St. Milton
Season: 2 -26 March 2021 , 7: 30 pm. Bookings: curators.com.au or door sales.
The Curators opened their 2021 program with an inspired, stunning spectacle: the premiere of the popular American female comedy, The Revolutionists by American, Lauren Gunderson.
It’s described as a “dream fugue” which takes place during the French Revolution and is based on true stories. Using a comedic approach Gunderson has depicted the lives of some “badass” women while focusing on women’s rights, theatre and French women who needed to speak out and be heard in tumultuous times.
The cast of four female actors give professional and confident performances, which incorporates song and choreography, as well as some shadow theatre. At first, it is a little confusing to know where they are located, because they are not using the familiar French accent, but they speak in what is now becoming “a trend”, a chosen accent.
The cast includes: Lisa Hickey as Olympe de Gouges a forgotten playwright, Amanda McErlean, as the whimsical Marie Antoinette, Asabi Goodman as Marianne Angelle, the freedom fighter from Saint –Dominque, who uses a delightful Caribbean accent, and Lauren Roche, who plays the assassin, Charlotte Corday.
Brisbane audiences need to see more quality theatre and this production has achieved this under the guidance of Michael Beh and The Curators Theatre, an independent group striving to produce work of a high standard.
The Curators have not only chosen an inspired play that questions pertinent issues for women in this colourful, revolutionary era, but one which values diversity. Audiences have a chance to learn more about the role of some women during these uncertain times in France.
Each woman represents a particular part of French society, and they share their experiences, regardless of their cultural background. Told in a very witty, fashionable and creative setting, it endeavors to broaden the viewer’s experiences, understanding and knowledge of the times, and offers a new opportunity for an alternative artistic perception of stage performance.
Beh has used the church space as a vehicle for exploration and experiment. He has provided opportunities for cast to cut through the 4th wall and interact with audience through staging the production in the round. His use of screens, shadows and lighting, as well as other technical effects in a minimalist set is effective. Further, he has designed period costumes to give a clever display of specific images and symbolism, based on the revolutionary period in France, e. g. the white masked faces, the use of long trails on the gowns, all help create a strong tableau and complete the transformation.
He has used choreography and singing to lift the production and give it an energetic edge. In particular, the strong vocals from Marianne (Asabi Goodman) and Charlotte (Lauren Roche), along with the inspired costumes, create a live tapestry and ambience which permeates through the theatre.
As Women’s Day approaches in modern day Australia and sensitive matters of abuse and rape are dealt with, Gunderson’s wit and style in The Revolutionists focuses on French women of courage and strength. The sisterhood that developed between these creatives is born from a common truth that needs to be told and Gunderson has explored this theme in her writing.
She has explores women’s rights and their place in a democracy, and she has attempted to speak for these women in history who may be forgotten, or have had their rights erased. She seeks to give women a voice and to remind us of women’s importance in history. She shows the relevance of their actions to women’s lives today and provides a voice for them through the theatre.
The Curators offer an alternative view through some inspired theatre, from their four talented feminists, which makes The Revolutionists a must see.