One of the best parts of seeing live theater is seeing a show and being surprised by it. Sometimes it can be from a performance in the show, or it can be from a fantastic technical element like the sets or the lighting. Other times, it could be how an amazing storyline comes to life. While all of these things are great, what makes a show memorable is when they all come together to give the audience an experience they won’t soon forget. Tallgrass Theater Company‘s production of Laura Gundersen’s “The Revolutionists” does just that, blending all the elements that keep audiences talking long after the show has ended. Luckily for you, this show is still airing until February 20, so you still have a chance if you haven’t seen it.
“La Révolutionnaire”, tells the story of 4 women from the reign of terror of the French Revolution. It brings together playwright Olympe De Gouge, assassin Charlotte Corday, former Queen Marie-Antoinette and Haitian rebel Marianne Angelle. Each of these women come together with their ideas of how they want to change the world they live in. For each of these women to do this, they need something in common. They need someone to write their manifestos and stories, so they turn to Olympe. Do some of these women get what they seek before they know their fate? To find out, you’ll have to attend “The Revolutionist” to find out.
One of the great things to come out of the pandemic is that Tallgrass is getting its own space. It allows them to bring the audience into the show in ways they weren’t necessarily able to do before.
Upon entering the space, you are greeted by the beautiful decor designed by their artistic director, Thomas D Perrine. You are drawn into the space as soon as you enter the theater with the beautifully painted floors that look like pages that Olympe De Gouge could have written. The purple walls at the back of the stage work beautifully with lighting by Erica Spiller and Ty Klobassa. The way they work together to illustrate the guillotines is poignant and shows how beautifully these elements can come together.
Another element that stands out is the beautiful costumes designed by Cheryl Clark. Each woman in the show has her unique style for the costumes she wears. Cheryl’s choice to have each woman in a different style gives the costumes a timeless feel that draws the audience into each of the women’s stories.
While director Megan Helmers’ vision weaves all the technical elements together, her vision can still be seen in the powerful performances of the four women we meet on stage who challenge the audience in different ways. We first meet struggling playwright Olympe de Gouges, brought to the stage by Allison Bollinger. She illustrates how easy it can be to look away when we feel things are too hard to look at. When we turn away, we lose the whole story, which I felt was fitting as her character faces writer’s block throughout the series.
In Marianne Angelle, played by Kiera McGregor, we see a sidekick to Olympe de Gouges. In her we see someone who knows what she means and is willing to watch what is happening around her, however difficult that may be. Both Bollinger and McGregor play fairly down-to-earth characters, which allows them to relate to audiences. The other two characters we meet give a punch to those present. The first is Ashley Scheffer as Charlotte Corday, who boldly takes the stage with a character who already knows what she wants. Then the second, Amanda Jackson, gives us a humorous look at Marie-Antoinette.
Whether you’re looking for an evening of laughs or an evening that inspires action from the audience, “The Revolutionists” will have you thinking about how you use your voice. The way this story is told through the powerful performances, gorgeous costumes, and beautiful sets and lighting make this a performance you won’t soon forget.
There are only a few performances left of this essential production. To learn more or to purchase tickets, visit https://tallgrasstheatre.org/tickets/.