The Revolutionists bring historical drama to the stage


Northern Star File Photo

Graduate teaching student Shannon Coltrane as Marie Antoinette, discusses her predicament during the French Revolution in the NIU School of Theatre and Dance’s production of “The Revolutionists” in 2019 in the O’Connell Theatre.

By Amy Geldean

Four amazing actresses of the NIU School of Theatre and Dance successfully brought Lauren Gunderson’s play “The Revolutionists” to the stage from 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, February 6 to 2:00 p.m. Sunday, February 10 at the O’Connell Theatre in the Stevens Building.

“The Revolutionists” describes the lives of four women as they face the harsh realities of the French Revolution in Paris during the infamous Reign of Terror.

Olympe de Gouges, played by Abby Ferree, struggles to find her voice as a playwright. Ferree shows the conflict Gouges faces between the need to tell the truth and her fear of being killed. Her cowardly actions reveal how uncertain she felt about her writing.

Marianne Angelle, played by Sonjanae Ashford, clearly knows when to stand up for herself and is not afraid of having a strong voice. Ashford’s proclamations overpowered Ferree when it came to the scenes where they argued.

Charlotte Corday, played by Jill Marlow, was the first to keep to her agenda despite what her friends thought. Marlow’s passion for the role came out as she read her powerful lines. She truly committed to the role with the compelling emotions of anger and sadness as she sealed her fate.

The infamous queen Marie Antoinette, played by Shannon Coltrane, was forced to realize the consequences of her actions as she faced the gruesome fate of the guillotine. Coltrane perfectly showed how Antoinette felt about the revolution as the character development continued until the end.

These women acted well together in their complex roles as they told the story of some iconic women of French history with a solid and undeniable chemistry. Gunderson strongly intertwined drama and comedy into this inspirational play through the powerful and influential script.

The basic set consisted of de Gouges workspace where the other three women came to her seeking help. Unfortunately, de Gouges failed Corday as she stepped up to the guillotine. De Gouges could not even save herself from uncertain death but Angelle continued to fight.

The story of “The Revolutionists” could not come to campus at a more important time as women continue to stand up against oppression from others. Its relevance and substantial plot stands out as the leading ladies fully commit to their characters.