Theater Review: More high fashion than high drama in Renegade Theater’s ‘Marie Antoinette’
Vilified as a heartless aristocrat, Marie Antoinette is also often characterized as the epitome of fashion excess. In Renegade Theater's production of David Adjmi's play, "Marie Antoinette," the theater is reconfigured as a fashion runway, puttin...
Vilified as a heartless aristocrat, Marie Antoinette is also often characterized as the epitome of fashion excess. In Renegade Theater’s production of David Adjmi’s play, “Marie Antoinette,” the theater is reconfigured as a fashion runway, putting Sasha Howell’s fanciful costumes front and center.
An anachronistic whirl of silhouettes, fabrics and genres, Howell’s whimsical designs are the veritable stars of the show, with cast members sporting everything from corsets and pearled pumps to Lady Gaga and Pink Floyd T-shirts.The costumes are accentuated by Howell and Dereck Murphy-Williams’ towering, confectionary-style wigs and Alec Schroeder’s witty makeup designs.
Costume and wig changes for Marie are done onstage in full view of the audience, and while this does make a visual and a thematic point, some of the changes are so slow and laborious, they effectively kill the already slow pace of the proceedings.
A fashion show ambiance is achieved by the audience on three sides with some of the seats on stage level. At times, however, that intimacy is too close, with some audience members becoming an uncomfortable part of a scene, rather than the intended voyeurs Marie felt were a part of every aspect of her life.
Chelsea Perez Campbell is not entirely successful giving the title character all the narcissistic camp needed to make her more fun in the first act, as a contrast with the inevitable tragedy we all know is coming in the second act. Campbell does have some touching dramatic moments in the show’s final scene but she has not made the audience nearly invested enough in the character to care, as she meets the unforgiving blade of Madame la Guillotine.
Providing much needed comic relief is Cory Anderson, as King Louis XVI, a petulant man-child who is no match for his compulsive shopper wife. Also making the most of a supporting role, Alec Schroeder vividly creates the philosopher pet sheep, who tries to teach Marie lessons she should have learned in order to keep her head.
Overall, the play lacks lacks a clear sense of dramatic build, which is ironic considering the sweeping historical saga it portrays.
While the show is a delight to look at, it too often seems like a rich chocolate eclair with a hollow core where the heart and filling should be.
What: “Marie Antoinette” by David Adjmi
Tickets: $20 for adults, $17 for students and seniors
When: July 21-23, 28-30 and Aug. 4-6, all shows at 8 p.m.
Where: Teatro Zuccone, 222 E. Superior St.