MARIE ANTOINETTE: THE COLOR OF FLESH, by acclaimed playwright Joel Gross will have it's regional premiere at Spark Theater until November 10th. The play tells the story of the imagined love triangle between Marie Antoinette, her real-life portrait painter Madame Elisabeth le Brun, and a politically radical playboy, Count Alexis de Ligne. This production was filled with fun, flirty and witty dialogue that was delicious to watch. The interpersonal menage a trois was fabulously executed and really carried the show. I loved the power struggle and romantic innuendo from each of the characters that was very reminiscent of Dangerous Liaisons. The wooing by insult during the ball scene was geniusly executed and the girl talk about sex was quite humorous. There were also several touching scenes including the childbirth and aftermath of Marie Antoinette and there was great intensity in the death of the King. The final scenes of the show between Marie and Elisabeth were so tender and touching that you could not take your eyes off of them.
Missy Moore was pure royalty as Marie Antoinette and had a very noble voice. From her first confident entrance to her frail and heartbreaking ending, Missy was mesmerizing onstage. I loved that while she was informal and friendly to those around her, just altering her posture made her authoritative and the Queen; and her final scene in the cell was absolutely haunting. Kelly Reeves was also wonderful as her friend and confident, Madame Elisabeth le Brun and she showed such range in this role. Her time to shine was during her scene in Vienna and her final scenes with Marie which were stellar. David Cates went from devilish playboy, to revolutionary and was excellent in his portrayal as Count Alexis de Linge and showed great contrast from Act One to Act Two. These three gifted actors complimented each other so well that it enhanced this tender show marvelously!
Director Luke Terry did an amazing job of picking some of the best talent for this intimate cast. This talented crew works together so well, it seems as though they have been doing it for years. The scenes varied in time, location and even country and the transitions were seamless. There were a couple of little thing that I would like to point out, but the show as a whole was solid. The blocking in Act One was a bit awkward at times as the actors found themselves in a straight line or on the same level (all standing, sitting, etc) and each actor needed to break off and have a reflective moment) but those issues were resolved in Act Two. One perfect example of this was in the bedroom scene between Elizabeth and Alexis - at the mention of the Queen, Elisabeth should have stood up and walked away as she was clearly upset at the mention of her during this time. Also I wished that the dance scene at the ball had been choreographed for constant motion and the Queen needed grander entrances in Act One (so Act Two would have more impact as she fell from grace). Production Design by Michael Emmitt was quite regal and stunning. This simple and majestic set consisted of two segments that the characters transitioned back and forth from with gorgeous props. I adored the crown molding on the set, but wished there had been a picture on one of the walls for Marie to reflect on (since she mentions it throughout the entire show). The costumes were absolutely fabulous and appropriate for the period. I loved Marie's transition from gaudy and glitzy outfits in her youth to more mature and royal dresses in Act Two and finally to the frailty at the end. As a costume designer myself, I have to mention one oddball article of clothing and that was the shabby shawl that she wore after childbirth that didn't match her level of royalty at the time and seemed more appropriate for the end of the show. I also appreciated the majestic classical music in the beginning of the show and revolutionary music at the end. The thoughtful touches made for a thoroughly enjoyable experience.
This show really is a wonderful character exploration and should be a must see for this season! Spark Theater presents MARIE ANTOINETTE: THE COLOR OF FLESH, fascinating audiences now through November 10th. Performances are Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 7:30pm. Spark Theater is located at 985 Santa Fe Drive in Denver, CO. For tickets or more information, check out Spark Theater online at http://sparktheater.org/tickets/.