EXCERPTS FROM THE REVIEW
Below are excerpts from the December 15, 2017 The Baltimore Sun review of The Revolutionists.
A FEMINIST VENTURE THROUGH THE FRENCH REVOLUTION AT EVERYMAN THEATRE
There’s something about “The Revolutionists,” Lauren Gunderson’s funny and moving play now galvanizing the stage of Everyman Theatre, that perfectly matches the tenor of our time.
Blending fact, fiction and fantasy, the playwright puts the audience into the thick of the French Revolution, but not from the usual vantage point, the one focused on the men who led it and bled it.
Gunderson helps us see the might-have-beens of this awful history, the possibilities if only the voices of women had been truly heard, their concerns taken seriously.
“Funny and moving... You get pulled into this kinetic world of would-be girl power.”
The scene is Paris, 1793, and the guillotine casts its crude shadow daily — that chilling device is never long out of sight in the Everyman production, which boasts a terrifically atmospheric set and projections by Daniel Ettinger, complemented by Elizabeth Harper’s sensitive lighting.
The play’s four female characters take us on a gripping ride as they plunge into the thick of things, determined to correct the course of a revolution run amok.
They know how difficult their task is — as one of them reminds us, “This is the ‘Reign of Terror,’ not ‘The Reign of Agree to Disagree’ ” — but they sense they’re on to something important for France. You might say they’re experiencing a “moi, too” moment.
One-liners bubble up constantly here, flavored with delectable anachronisms. The fizzing dialogue throws you off-guard as you get pulled into this kinetic world of would-be girl power. You almost forget the specter of that tireless blade hanging over all and sundry. So when the dark turns come, and come they must, they register with an extra jolt.
“The Revolutionists” might come off as silly or studied in the wrong hands. The terrific Everyman cast, superbly directed by Casey Stangl, ensures that all the disparate elements click neatly into place.
[Megan] Anderson gives the most vibrant and layered performance I’ve seen from her yet, reaching an affecting peak in the second act, when Olympe’s convictions get sorely tested.
As usual, [Dawn] Ursula does striking work. She’s a natural at dispensing deadpan wit, triggering some of the best laughs of the show, and is just as effective when revealing the part of Marianne’s personal life that keeps her outward flame burning.
[Emily] Kester makes an ideal Charlotte, giving us a portrait by turns flippant, intense (she’s a hoot practicing her “stabbing and scary eyes”), and just a little bit scared.
[Beth] Hylton, deliciously outfitted in an iridescent pannier skirt (David Burdick’s costume designs are a treat), is hilarious and, yes, rather endearing as the ditsy, doomed queen. You really, really want to believe her when she says her infamous let-them-eat-cake line “was out of context; I thought I was ordering lunch.”
“The Revolutionists” — the first Gunderson play to get a professional production in the Baltimore area — adds up to a surprising, yet cohesive and even somehow comforting, experience.