Sunday, July 5, 2009

A New Play


There is a new play about Marie-Antoinette being produced this August at the Courtyard Theatre in London. The Trial of Marie-Antoinette by Peter Langdon goes beyond the stereotype of the frivolous queen and seeks to bring the audience in touch with the real woman in the midst of her ordeal. According to the official website:

The Show Paris. 1793. The King is dead, and the revolution is entering its most chaotic, terrifying phase. In a medieval prison, Marie Antoinette awaits trial before her people for the crime of being Queen.

The Trial of Marie Antoinette is a new play by Peter Langdon. It's the story of the last days of one of history's most infamous women, going beyond our image of the 'let them eat cake' Queen to examine the truth behind her life and her downfall, and understand Marie Antoinette as a human rather than icon. The play considers how new political ideas and the hatred of the people became so powerful that Marie Antoinette had to die. Based on extensive research and historical records, this play is the first in English to put the trial on stage. With a cast of 11 and an epic sweep, The Trial of Marie Antoinette brings the turbulent times of the French Revolution vividly to life.

The play has already received some critical acclaim. Here is a review by Richard Langton of The Richmond-Twickenham Times:

This is as fine a new play as I have seen for many a year and the enthusiastic reception it was accorded as the lights were raised confirmed my view.

It is a historical play as the title states, about a woman hated, and vilified, with a whole country screaming for her blood, and the courage and dignity with which she faced this ordeal.

As Marie Antoinette, Julie Tallis gives a fine performance, an enthralling mix of fire and steel and although I have not enough knowledge to decide whether history has been unfair to her, only a heart of stone could not but agree that the harsh judgement against her was unwarranted.

The author, who specialises in historical plays, tells us in the programme that the remark “let them eat cake” which was done so much to establish her unfeeling reputation was in fact made years previously by a man.

Her gaolers, traducers from the Paris streets and her impossibly handicapped defending counsel are vividly brought to life as the play unfolds, and James Hayward as Fouquier her prosecuting counsel is a study in evil cynicism.

The cast of eleven is a large one on the Tabard stage small but the director and author, Peter Longdon manages to make it uncrowded and swift-flowing.

I do wholeheartedly recommend it, particularly to anyone who enjoyed either the play or film A Man For All Seasons, which told a not dissimilar tale.

It sounds wonderful. I encourage our readers in London to see The Trial of Marie-Antoinette if they can. My thanks to the author Peter Langdon for writing and letting us know about his new drama!

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3 comments:

Julygirl said...

Oh, how I would love to see that!

Matterhorn said...

Oh! This does sound wonderful! And I thought the parallel with the story of St. Thomas More was very interesting and insightful...

lara77 said...

I wonder if the play will ever be shown in Paris? Do you think the French will really look at their past in a new light? Very curious.