Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Florida - West Coast

Marie Antoinette
freeFall Theatre
Review by William S. Oser | Season Schedule

Also see Bill's reviews of Scott & Patti: Pajama Party and The Blue Eyed Bettys and Nick Drivas: Love at First Sight

Lucas Wells and Megan Therese Rippey
Photo by Andrew Wofford
freeFall Theatre presents David Adjmi's Marie Antoinette ("Inspired by a True Story") as the final play in their 2016-2017 season. I find this play to have multiple problems beyond my basic disconnect to its artistic vision. The narrative is stop and go, with detailed scenes about one point in time, then a forward leap of multiple years, making it very hard to follow. Characters with important relationships to our heroine suddenly are out of the picture, sometimes never return again or they show up without letting the audience understand what has transpired. For audiences with traditional tastes, Marie Antoinette is likely to be heavy going, but perhaps it will appeal to younger audiences who are more exposed to non-linear narratives.

The production features the recognizable style of director Eric Davis, featuring surreal costumes and props. The costumes are designed by David Covach, properties are by Nicholas Mathis, and Eric Davis designed the settings, with lighting by Cody Basham. Special mention is warranted for Parker Lawhorne's spectacular wig design. I have generally liked Davis' strong artistic imprint in productions as varied as The Mikado, Peter Pan, and Spring Awakening but here the additional layers of surreal work against clarity, which is already a bit off-center in the storytelling. Something to anchor the audience in time and place might have helped focus.

The acting is the strongest element in this production, with Megan Therese Rippey a standout as our heroine. She navigates the emotional jumpiness of Marie, as written by Mr. Adjmi, but there is not a solid arc for her to play. Lucas Wells is excellent as Louis XVI, very childlike in the early scenes, and grown into a more mature being later. The supporting cast features Heather Baird as Yolande De Polignac (and other parts) and Ariel Reich as Therese De Lamballe, two confidants of Marie. Haulston Mann plays Alex Fersen (and other parts), possibly Marie's lover, and Stephan Jones plays Marie's brother Joseph (and other roles). Also in the cast are company regulars Matthew McGee as a talking/bleating sheep with advice for Marie and Will Garrabrant as The Dauphin.

Sad to say Marie Antoinette is not a match for my sensibilities, and as Eric Davis takes the already surreal narrative to further reaches, I had trouble following the confusing plot. I hope others like this more than I do.

freeFall Theatre Company presents Marie Antoinette through August 13, 2017, at 6099 Central Avenue, St. Petersburg. For ticket and performance information, visit

Cast (in alphabetical order):
Yolande De Polignac /Mrs. Sauce: Heather Baird
The Dauphin: Will Garrabrant
Joseph/Mr. Sauce/Guard/Revolutionary: Stephan Jones*
Axel Fersen/Executioner/Guard/Revolutionary: Haulston Mann
Sheep: Matthew McGee*
Therese De Lamballe/Royalist: Ariel Reich
Marie Antoinette: Megan Therese Rippey*
Louis XVI: Lucas Wells*
*=Member of Actors' Equity Association

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