Despite claims in the program that he was “smitten by this script, ” director Michael Gillett has done himself no favors in staging this clumsy depiction of Marie Antoinette’s final years. It begins and ends with matters of the throat—from the Affair of the Necklace to the queen’s beheading at the guillotine in 1793 at age 38—but it offers little insight into the era (with the French Revolution bearing down full steam) and those who peopled it. Marie Antoinette, we learn, was a spoiled brat from Austria, a twit and snob who never fully embraced her newly adopted country. Most of us already know this. More fascinating is just how oblivious she was to the nuances of bad P.R., and the (deadly) impact this had on her reputation and the fate of the royal household. None of that is touched upon with any complexity, nor is there a specific point of view offered by the playwright or the director. Which leaves Christine Rosencrans, as the queen, in something of a pickle. How to portray a human being—insufferable, but human nonetheless—when the script offers nothing but smoke and blather? (Apparently Kirsten Dunst fared no better in Sofia Coppola’s yet-to-be-released costume drama, which got tepid reviews when it debuted earlier this year at Cannes.) The result is a performance of shrieking proportions, though she does look properly chastened and horrified when she endures her sham of a trial, where she is accused of bestiality and molesting her son, among other things. Rosencrans almost redeems herself with the grim look on her face that seems to say, “My god, what has happened?” But it takes nearly two-hours to reach this point (sans intermission), and the audience, like the French people, has had enough. (Nina Metz)
This production is now closed.