From William Shakespeare’s era to today, theatre was meant to be an expression of the out-of-the-ordinary. Creative people, with unique thought processes emoting for an audience. Counter-cultural themes designed to make the onlookers say, “Why not,” and then “WHY THE HELL NOT?” Movies are about visual spectacle, but theatre is art of the mind. At least, that’s what the Beat Generation believed. Jack Kerouac, Alan Ginsburg, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti hated the cinema, but loved live theater. Why was that? Because the movement and words of live actors made you think! Also, because playwrights were subversive SOBs with an agenda to foment change. It is with these themes in mind that Drama in the Hood heartily endorses Bainbridge Performing Arts,’ “The Revolutionists.”
It’s a new show, first presented on stage at Catholic University just four years ago. But, it is a show fraught with timeless struggles. Rich versus poor. Men versus women. Establishment versus change agents. “The Revolutionists” is the French Revolution with 21st Century asides and language. As such, it is unlike anything you are going to see anywhere else in the Puget Sound this season.
The best theater makes you think about what you saw and heard well into your next workweek. Lakewood Playhouse’s “Angels in America Parts One and Two is like that. So too is this show. Trust Drama in the Hood that you will have a good time, but trust us even harder that you’ll be better for having seen “The Revolutonists.” Viva la Revolucion,’ Viva Sororite,’ Viva BPA!
The publicity for this show makes reference to “badass women.” You think? Olympe de Gouges was the scribe of the evolution, forever exhorting the women of the day that they weren’t being treated fairly. Played by Meg Wolf in this show, de Gouges transitions from fury to inspiration to doubt to fear and around the same track again and again. In other words she reacts the same way that anyone does when confronted by choices and her/his place in history. Of all the characters, Ms. de Gouges is the hardest to play convincingly, and Ms. Wolf is more than up to the task. During her career, Meg Wolf has been on both stage and screen. Those experiences make her more than qualified for this complex character, and she makes the audience believe the torment, struggle, and eventual triumph of Olympe de Gouge.
Kerrie Thornton plays Marianne Angelle, who is a composite figure, standing in for the many black women who stood up against their suppressers in ways great and small. Ms. Thornton and Director Kate Carruthers (a theater gem in her own right) formed Marianne Angelle into a woman with a fierce vision of right and wronger and an equally fierce vision of what a friend is supposed to do for another friend. This is Kerrie Thornton’s maiden voyage with BPA and, boy howdy, did she choose a powerful way to say, “Hello.” We hope she stays to say hello many more times.
We last saw Justine Stillwell in “Xanadu,” when she played the female lead, “Kira.” She was fine in that role, but she is tons better in this one! Her Marie Antoinette is absolutely spot-on in its treading the line between regal entitlement, (“May I nap on you?”), woman in fear for her life, and fledgling Revolutionary. What a pleasure it is to see such growth in such a short period of time. Bravo, Ms. Stillwell. Take a Viva for yourself, and share one with the team that dressed you, because the wig looked like confection.
On the hierarchy of badass, we nominate Callie Turner’s Charlotte Corday as the baddest one of all. Ms. Corday just set her level at Thrash Rock and never let it drop any lower. She met the Revolution with a sneer and a sharp weapon at the ready, and didn’t hesitate to use both of them. Callie Turner’s intensity level matched her character perfectly, and she masters playing a historical character accurately and with great stage skill. People lucky enough to see this show will understand why Drama in the Hood said, “Callie Turner bored a hole in me with her gaze.”
Bainbridge Performing Arts never fails to do something special with a set. In “The Revolutionists” the movement of the doors adds to the mood of what happens next. Scenic designer Richard Schug earned his kudos with set design.
The Island’s premier theater company is ending their 2018/19 indoor season in a blaze of glory, with Mamma Mia, opening in May. Huge crowds, wild kudos, limos, searchlights in the sky, and Rex Reed doing pithy interviews out front. Maybe just the first couple of those, but the point is, “Mamma Mia” will get sellout crowds and award nominations. But…Don’t…Sleep…On…The…Revolutionists. It’s important theater that deserves to play in front of the same full houses that will grace 200 Madison Ave N. for Mamma Mia. Important theater deserves your patronage, at least as much as Abba deserves it.
“The Revolutionists,” Bainbridge Performing Arts, 200 Madison Ave N. Bainbridge Island 98110. Fri-Sat 7:30, Sun 3 pm through March 24. Tickets: sa1.seatadvisor.com/sabo/servlets/TicketRequest?eventId=1203497&presenter=BAINBRIDGE&venue=&event=&version=&tck=true Info: www.bainbridgeperformingarts.org/, or 206-842-4560