Review: ‘The Revolutionists’ at Big Idea Theatre

The Revolutionists: Thu 8pm, Fri 8pm, Sat 8pm, Sun 2pm; Through 2/15; $12-$18; Big Idea Theatre, 1616 Del Paso Blvd.; (916) 960-3036;
Rated 5.0

You might say that sisters are doing it for themselves in The Revolutionists, now at Big Idea Theatre. Written by a woman (Lauren Gunderson), directed by a woman (Jenny Adler) and starring a quartet of extremely talented women, the play is a brutal—and brutally funny—feminist take on the role of four women during the French Revolution.

Playwright Olympe de Gouges (Stephanie Hodson), assassin Charlotte Corday (Kourtney Smith), former queen Marie Antoinette (Ashley Rose) and Haitian rebel Marianne Angelle (Jasmine Washington) bicker, banter and ultimately conspire to fight the Reign of Terror of 1793 Paris.

The playwright wants to be recognized for the power of art, particularly her art; the queen wants to hang onto her head; the assassin wants to rid the world of radical politician and sexual sadist Jean-Paul Marat, the Marquis de Sade; and the rebel, a composite character representing a movement among Caribbean women, fights French colonial rule over Haiti even as the French Revolution rages.

Hanging over their brave actions is a sure and certain meeting with the guillotine.

Despite the impending tragedy, Gunderson's play is as funny as it is serious. She sparks clever discussions about the power of art—especially theater—to affect history, and about the value of acting upon personal conviction, even if the outcome is uncertain.