French “Revolutionists” fight for their equality

Payton Willis

“The Revolutionists” play includes characters who are inspired by real heroic women during the French Revolution. During the show, the audience follows four women, Olympe De Gouge, Marie Antionette, Marianne Angelle and Charlotte Corday amidst their battle for equality.

Attending the show at the Black Box Theatre in downtown Moline was fantastic. For a small theater, they do an amazing job of incorporating the audience into the feel of the show. Audience members get to get to know the cast and feel included in ways a larger theater may not be able to offer. 

For how small Black Box Theatre is, the set is magnificent. It really allows the viewers to feel like a part of the revolution with these courageous women. Senior Augustana student Trinity Filut took part in building the set. 

“I got to build a guillotine which was cool,” Filut said. “Working on this show allowed me to build props that a lot of everyday shows don’t include. Black Box requires me to do a lot of refurbishing and mixing paints to reuse props and have them work for multiple shows.”  

When it comes to the French Revolution, names such as Napoleon, Marie Antionette and Louis XVI often come to mind. What we don’t learn about is the revolution for women and how their work inspired the fight to win equality. 

Mary Ann Johnson wrote a review in the MD theater guide and described this show as “a rollicking, rambunctious show and a fun way to spend an afternoon or evening. It is a genuine pleasure to watch these four talented actors bite into these roles and shake them for all they’re worth.” 

After viewing the show, I would agree. The audience should be prepared that this is a comedic historical depiction of the French Revolution. 

Towards the beginning, Charlotte, who once was an author and now is turned assassin, murders Jean-Paul Marat who is a “revolutionary” whose outspoken views and opinions posed a real threat to the fight for equality. His death starts a battle the four women were not prepared to fight.  

Equality and the need for France to evolve brings these four women together, who would not normally interact, and turns them into a sisterhood for change. Jean-Paul Marat’s death is only the beginning of the long fight that the four main characters unleashed on France. 

Playwright Olympe De Gouge narrates the majority of the story and brings feelings of fear, sadness and empowerment to life on the stage. In the beginning, Olympe narrates the fight while staying behind the scenes. After facing hardships and death, she is inspired to fight for a better ending and for the story of her friends to outlive them all. 

Another relationship that develops in the show is Marianne Angelle and Marie Antionette’s. Watching them go through love lost and betrayal shows how much growth a person can experience when faced with making a life-changing decision. Navigating her newfound freedom is difficult for Marie Antionette, and her involvement in the Revolution allows her to see the world from someone else’s eyes. 

All four women cast in the show are amazing actors! An assassin who wants to be heard, a queen who wants her freedom, a rebel who needs change and a playwright who wants to create an immortal masterpiece. Each character has a vivid backstory that allows the audience to truly understand why the women are so invested in the need for change. 

This grand and dream-tweaked comedy is about violence and legacy, art and activism, feminism and terrorism, compatriots and chosen sisters and how we actually go about changing the world,” Lauren Gunderson, playwright of the show, said.

“The Revolutionists” celebrates women who can become heroes in the most unexpected ways. The fight for equality still stands today, but works of art like this show demonstrate how crucial it is to keep fighting. Attending this show will allow audience members to see how different women in history strived to make a difference and how they can as well for future generations. 

This play is showing March 10-12 at 7:30pm.