The first act of David Adjmi’s MARIE ANTOINETTE (at the A.R.T. through Sept. 29th) is marvelously outrageous: an inventive romp, full of cheeky, sardonic anachronisms. You know the story. Taxing the poor and exempting the rich. Wait a minute. This would be the French version of trickle down economics.
Being Queen, Marie Antoinette (Brooke Bloom) says candidly, “is like a long suck on a dry prune.” The King (Steven Rattazzi) is a child. Her subjects are restless and Versailles is so big that she keeps getting lost. So she builds a pastoral retreat on the Versailles grounds but that doesn’t make her feel better. Director Rebecca Taichman’s remarkable cast sprints through Adjmi’s wild and wooly exposition.
The heady goings on at court are abruptly cut off by a rain of terror, when a ton of black dirt pours down on the Queen’s head, descending with a crashing sound and fury (designed by Matt Hubbs and Riccardo Hernandez), covering the stage in a blanket of soot. In short, Act I is an ingenious mash-up, delightfully executed, with a bizarre talking sheep (David Greenspan), a hilarious, scantily clad, boogying staff of servants and that spectacular sooty special effect.
Act II, alas, is not.