Regional Reviews: Las Vegas
Despite her privileged upbringing as Austrian royalty, Marie was a poor student and remained functionally illiterate into adulthood. At the age of 14, she was shipped off to France and married for political reasons to Louis XVI (himself only 15). There we find her trapped in the gilded cage of Versailles, filling her irresponsible days with lavish spending and sugar-fueled gab sessions with the court ladies.
On its own, Adjmi's script is amusing enough, but adds little to our understanding of this historical figure or the social upheaval that led to her doom; mostly, it seems that Marie was just not very bright. It takes good production values to make this play soar. Happily, with strong direction by Troy Heard and a compelling performance by Katie Marie Jones in the title role, Majestic Repertory offers up a sweet confection of a show.
Katie Marie Jones nimbly embodies the clueless Marie, the classic poor little rich girl who has no conception of the social and economic misery afflicting her subjects, nor any sense of her responsibility toward them. When she and her ladies amuse themselves by pretending to be rustics (an incident based on historical fact), their paean to "the simple life" reminds us that Paris Hilton did not invent stupidity.
Andrew Young is strikingly good as the naïve and befuddled Louis, who obsessively tinkers with clocks to avoid dealing with his country's plight or his own difficulties in siring an heir. These are two fumbling children, completely ill-suited to the jobs that destiny has bestowed on them.
Another standout is Josh Sigal as Joseph, the Holy Roman Emperor, Marie's stern brother who pokes his nose shamelessly into their unproductive sex life, hounding the couple to produce an heir in order to secure the political alliance between Austria and France.
Richie Villafuerte has a sly turn as the talking sheep that tries to warn Marie of the coming revolution. Why a talking sheep, you ask? That's a mystery only the playwright can answer. For the most part, Villafuerte's stage presence makes the role engaging enough that we can shrug off the fact that it probably belongs in a different play.
As Marie's Swedish lover Axel Fersen, local poet Christopher Cipollini makes a valiant effort, but on opening night he simply lacked the stage experience to be convincing. His performance may improve later in the run.
In this production, the design elements rival the actors for our attention. RuBen Permel's eye-popping costumes are both stunning and meticulously crafted. They are well matched by Bree Schaller's spectacular wigs, which evoke the extreme hairstyles popularized by Marie. Fittingly, John Rager's set design looks like a cross between a fashion show runway and a 1980s nightclub, complete with faux-marble flooring and disco balls in various shapes and sizes. Marcus Randolph's lighting design is playful and effective. Dave Magtoto has designed some charming props; the archery scene is especially fun. The eye candy on the stage is as lavish as the bon-bons at Marie's tea parties.
Marie Antoinette, through April 29, 2018, Friday and Saturday at 8 pm, Sunday at 5 pm, and Thursday, April 19, at 8 pm) at Alios Las Vegas, 1217 S. Main St., Las Vegas, NV. For tickets ($25 adults, $15 students) and other information, go to www.majesticrepertorytheatre.com.