We meet Marie Antoinette in the late 1770s, six or seven years after she was sent to France by her mother, Empress Maria-Theresa of Austria, to marry Louis XVI and become the Queen of France. Her seemingly perfect life of fashion, parties, and friends is marred only by her and Louis' childlessness (and Louis' childishness). Fast-forward ten years and several children later, and Marie begins to confess a loneliness in this life where she never has a moment of privacy, is constantly watched, and feels like she's treated more like an idea or an image than a person. But she's not the only one in France with troubles. As Act I comes to a close, the castle is invaded and the royal family taken hostage by the revolutionaries (with a few mentions of LaFayette, America's favorite fighting Frenchman, that will surely please Hamilton fans). Act II shows Marie desperately trying to escape or be rescued by her Austrian family, unwilling and unable to give up the only life she's known. Or rather, maybe it's just that she can't imagine any other way to live.
|Zach Garcia as King Louis XVI (photo by Dan Norman)
The look of the show, at least in the first act, is delicious! The stage is framed by elegant white columns, with a backdrop of a perfectly manicured French garden, all warmed by a golden pinkish light. And the costumes, the costumes! Marie and her friends wear ridiculously high wigs with frilly flouncy dresses, the men in elegant brocade and short pants. It's all a feast for the eyes, which only makes it more shocking in the second act when all is taken away and Marie is stripped to rags. (Set design by Annie Henly, lighting design by Paola Rodrigez, costume design by Katherine B. Kohl, wig design by Robert A. Dunn.)
|Jane Froiland as Marie Antoinette
(photo by Dan Norman)
Marie Antoinette continues at Red Eye Theater through March 4. It's a fascinating look at a woman we think we know, but it turns out there may be more to her story than history tells us. And maybe her story is still being repeated today.