Theatre Review

Epic's 'The Revolutionists' spotlights talented women of the theatre

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Epic Theatre’s artistic director, Kevin Broccoli, has a knack for discovering new plays and finding the right person to direct them.

Kevin has introduced Rhode Island to Lauren Gunderson, one of the hottest new playwrights on the scene today. Her “The Revolutionists” gets its Rhode Island premiere at the intimate (40 seats) black box theatre at Cranston’s Artists’ Exchange with performances through February 23.

Kevin recruited Cranstonian Lynne Collinson, recent co-founder of the WomensWork Theatre Collaborative at Artists’ Exchange, to direct this hysterically funny play.

A woman playwright, a woman director and four outstanding actresses, plus a number of women working behind the scenes all work together to provide an entertaining, dramatic, intense and historical (even if history is bent a bit) two-act play.

Collinson said that after reading the play she knew just who she wanted for the key role of Olympe, the would-be writer suffering from writer’s block.

Joanne Fayan is the glue that holds this flawless production together, working off her three partners with perfect comic timing, physical comedy that jumps at you, and perfect delivery of Gunderson’s witty language.

Rhode Island College student Angelique Dina plays a dynamic Caribbean woman who is out to rid the world, or at least France’s territories, from slavery. She needs Olympe to write a declaration that will change the law and motivate women to join the revolution.

Betsy Rinaldi plays Marianne, the cutesy young woman who is determined to be an assassin and do her part for the French Revolution.

And then there’s Steph Rodger as Marie Antoinette, chewing up the scenery with her quest to have history look favorably upon her and her misdeeds. She really didn’t mean it the way it sounds when she said, “Let them eat cake.”

Put them all together on the small stage and you get four different personalities and backgrounds that all come together for a common goal.

There are many historical references, some you’ll get while others may be a stretch, but so funny you can’t stop laughing. References to “Hamilton” and “Les Miserables” add to the fun, as the second act becomes a bit darker when the guillotine looms behind them (clever staging).

Some will see the play as a strong statement for women power. And it is. Some will root for the equal rights and anti-slave messages. And they should. Some will raise eyebrows at the absurd historical references. And they may. All will laugh, giggle, smirk and guffaw at the humor.

Collinson is on the right path with her second play with and about women, as she continues to uncover and highlight the many talents of Rhode Island’s women of the theatre.

Word of mouth is sure to make “The Revolutionists” a tough ticket with only 40 seats and a short run, so call today (490-9475) or go online at www.epictheatreri.org for tickets.

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