Marie Antoinette

We all know the story of Marie Antoinette: spoiled rich queen who got rather severely punished when the people of France got tired of all the partying. Several authors and directors (Sofia Coppola for one) have taken turns retelling her story and playwright David Adjmi is among them. Stages Repertory Theatre is bringing Adjmi’s Marie Antoinette to its stage complete with sky-high hairdos, gorgeous ball gowns and a truth-telling sheep (a surreal element) who attempts a lifestyle intervention for the girl from Austria (sadly unsuccessful).

Sam Houston University prof Leslie Swackhamer is back in Houston to direct this two-act with its 12-member cast, and has discarded the starker version presented in New York City. “Fashion and excess is what Marie Antoinette is all about; you’re going to get some fashion and some excess. It’s going to be quite a feast for the eyes in terms of design.” Swackhamer predicts that audiences will discover that the title character was not all bad. “Marie Antoinette was just a very convenient scapegoat, sort of like our celebrities right now. She was 14 years old when she went to France to marry. That’s a pretty young girl. And then Louis XV died unexpectedly, so they were teenagers when they were made king and queen. There’s certain things about them you actually like, including she’s got spirit in the face of quite a number of obstacles. Surprisingly, you get to where you actually like her.”

Although the play is set in the 18th century, the dialogue is all in the modern vernacular, and Swackhamer says the story really resonates with audiences today. “Every major fashion designer has done a collection on Marie Antoinette. She’s our first celebrity devoured by her own sense of celebrity. The ultimate fashion victim.”

7:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays; 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 3 p.m. Sundays. Through November 2. Stages Repertory Theatre, 3201 Allen Parkway. For information, call 713‑527‑0123 or visit stagestheatre.com. $19 to $54.
Wednesdays, Thursdays, 7:30 p.m.; Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Starts: Oct. 8. Continues through Nov. 2, 2014

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