LCT Video Theatre Spotlight Series: Human Race Theatre’s “The Revolutionists” Portray Powerful Women

by Liz Eichler

Human Race Theatre in Dayton embraces the theatre credo “the show will go on” by mounting Lauren Gunderson’s “The Revolutionists” fully produced and specifically for viewing through Broadway on Demand, available through July 4.

Lauren Gunderson’s “The Revolutionists” is the tale of “four badass women take on the French Revolution,” and one of the hottest scripts since its premiere at Cincinnati’s Playhouse in the Park in 2016. It is fast-moving, funny, and fabulous. The story surfs the wave of the last decade of political and social angst in the U.S.. Gunderson’s work knocks us over with waves of wisdom and awareness of inequities for women throughout history by using great characters and some great lines.

The ensemble delivers and is able to reach the audience through the screen. This “passionate sociopolitical comedy about women’s rights”  features Ginna Hoben as writer Olympe de Gouges, Maggie Lou Rader as Marie Antoinette, Tess Talbot as Charlotte Corday,  and Torie Wiggins as Marianne Angelle. Part ensemble work and part inner monologue, but all about how women must have a voice in the future of the world. Hoben is a focused and driven Olympe, a writer of conviction, straddling worlds she crafts and a world she witnesses. Wiggins as Marianne stands strong and steadfast in the fight.  Talbot is wild yet purposeful as the assassin Corday and Rader brings humor and humanity to Marie Antoinette. 

We meet, first, the guillotine. Then we meet the other characters: the writer who knows her work is controversial, the fighters against the regime, and the representative of the regime (who relates she only became the infamous/famous queen of France because her older sisters had smallpox). All of these women stood out from society, they did not blend in. They also share that the guillotine is not the worst of it.

Directed by Margarett Perry, with Video Production by Shaunn Baker of WorldStage Media, we see the action mostly through three cameras, but the angles change as the stakes rise. Scenic Designer Ray Zupp crafted a simple effective stage splashed with “Vive la France” allowing the lovely clothing of Costume Designer Janet G. Powell and images from Lighting Design John Rensel to take focus. Strong music selection by Sound Designer Jay Brunner. 

I recommend this show. If you’ve never seen “The Revolutionists” you will be taken up by the action and unfolding of the stories of these women.  If you’ve seen the show before, this production may allow you to focus on the brilliance of the writing, as Gunderson’s characters deliver line after line of the consequences of being a woman in politics in the 1790s.

You can watch the show anytime at Broadway on Demand.  If you’ve never seen a show through the BOD system, give yourself time in advance to sort through the process. It is a bit more complicated than ordering other On-Demand videos, since the billing goes through the theatre, versus your cable company or Prime account. This is what I did: 

  1. Purchased a ticket through the Human Race website (here)
  2. While you can view it on your device, I wanted to watch in my living room, so I uploaded the Broadway on Demand app on my Firestick
  3. Look for a confirmation in your email after you upload the Broadway on Demand
  4. Go back to Broadway on Demand website and enter your birthdate (there is some strong language and mature situations in this play) but be sure to ensure that you are 15 years old or you will be locked out (found out the hard way!)
  5. Click back onto Broadway on Demand app via my Firestick and enjoyed supporting local artists. 

During the lockdowns, American’s turned to the arts and the streaming stories on Netflix, Hulu, Disney + and more growing the market up to 37%.  Local theatre artists have turned to streaming their work, too. Audiences can pick and choose from strong local shows to national theatres—all the dramatic elements and local performers you know and love, but accessible in your living room on your devices. Budgets may not match “Bridgerton” but many are compelling and a great way to spend an hour or two. This is a series on how some of the League of Cincinnati Theaters member companies persisted and grew during the Great Pause and how you can access their work.  

Liz Eichler, MTA, MBA has served LCT since 2011, and is past president and co-chair of Stage Insights.  She has been an arts marketer in NJ, DE, IN, SC and OH and has owned her own costuming business. She currently teaches marketing at University of Dayton.