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Marie Antoinette

This world-premiere staging of David Adjmi's tragicomedy “navigates a tricky path between seriousness and send-up.”

American Repertory Theater, Cambridge, Mass.,(617) 547-8300

*** 

This world-premiere staging of a 2006 David Adjmi tragicomedy “navigates a tricky path between seriousness and send-up,” said Carolyn Clay in The Boston Phoenix. A gloss on the life of one of history’s most iconic 1 percenters, the show makes the world of Louis XVI’s star-crossed bride look as spectacularly theatrical as a Lady Gaga arena concert before it takes the whole audience on “a wild ride” to the guillotine. Brooke Bloom plays Marie as “a naïve but not mean-spirited child diva.” We first see her wearing a towering confection of a white wig and eating bonbons as she trades gossip with her identically attired coterie. In a moment, she’ll utter her most famous line—“Let them eat cake.” But we will hear it as both a joke and an alarm bell: Very suddenly, Marie’s party is over.

“A provocative idea bubbles up from the absurdist stew” that follows, said Don Aucoin in The Boston Globe. In Adjmi’s world, power is always concentrated, and the democracy that’s demanded by the masses is a sham. He gives this show’s characters too many “glib, jokey exchanges that creak like an underdeveloped Saturday Night Live sketch.” But at times this satirist “can wield a pretty sharp blade.” Apart from Bloom’s winningly snarky Marie, “the most compelling figure on stage” is a sheep, voiced by David Greenspan, who cites Rousseau when he arrives in a dream to warn the queen of dark days coming. She hears the message, sort of. By then, it’s far too late.

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