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EMAV Review: Lavish 'Marie Antoinette' is dynamic and powerful ★★★★★

Updated: Mar 8, 2019

★★★★★ - Irresistible

This theatrical and stylistic retelling of the life and final days of Marie Antoinette is a challenging and powerfully irresistible 5-Star production of David Adjmi’s play, with a tour-de-force performance by Katie Marie Jones.

From the outset, vibrant tints of sky-high coiffure and haute couture are worn by Marie and her frenemies – as they converse like Valley Girls over a spot of tea and plates of colorful macaroons. Throughout the first act, the audience is treated to Marie’s lavish, onstage costume changes underscored by the driving beat of techno music and flashy lighting on the “Fashion Show Runway”.

Director Troy Heard and his gifted production team tease us in Act 1 with the frivolous and sumptuous finery of life in 18th Century Versailles, Paris & Environs, and then effectively strip away the nonessential accessories in Act 2 as the Royal Family attempts to escape to the country. Marie’s wardrobe is by then reduced to one plain item and, for her final days, a sullied chemise.

Three Cirque du Soleil artists head up the creative team: lavish costumes and sumptuous finery by RuBen Permel, splashy wigs by Bree Schiller, and set designer John Rager. A thrust stage reaches out into the audience, which surrounds it on two sides. This dynamic performance space amplifies the theatrical energy and tension between the actors and audience who are in such close proximity to each other. The lighting by Marcus Randolph, and sound design by Cory Covell, successfully accentuate the impact of both the palatial surroundings and the prison.

From initial Valley Girl jesting (“the linzer tarts, omigod”) to her mad-scene finale (stripped of shoes and hair), Katie Marie Jones carries off the title character with aplomb – indicative of the self-confidence or poise exhibited in a manner that borders at times on insolence most appropriate to the role. As her husband (extravagant spender King Louis XVI), Andrew Young is wonderfully immature and indecisive in attempts to address his limited sexual interest in Marie or to combat the influence of court in their efforts to improve France's government.

Other cast members include dutifully charming April Sauline and Natalie Senecal as the disingenuous high-fashion courtiers (Yolande de Polignac and Therese de Lamballe); Richie Villafuerte, a most convincing talking sheep who warns Marie to change her extravagant lifestyle; Josh Sigal (Joseph), Christopher Cipollini (Axel Fersen) and Rowan Johns (The Dauphin).

Marie Antoinette was commissioned by Yale Repertory Theatre -- with development and production support provided by Yale’s Binger Center for New Theatre and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation – and received a critically acclaimed world premiere co-production by American Repertory Theater and Yale Rep in 2012. The play won 3 Connecticut Critics Circle Awards including Best Play, received a New York premiere at Soho Rep and has been produced at Steppenwolf, Woolly Mammoth and other theaters around the world.

Playwright David Adjmi is the 2010 recipient of the Whiting Award for Drama and was awarded a Mellon Foundation Playwrights Residency, the Guggenheim Fellowship, the Kesselring Prize for Drama, the Steinberg Playwright Award (the “Mimi”), and the Bush Artists Fellowship, among others. He is the recipient of multiple MacDowell Colony fellowships, Sundance/Ucross residency and others.

Marie Antoinette continues its run at Majestic Repertory Theatre, 1217 S. Main St., Las Vegas, NV 89104, through April 22nd.

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