French Gray | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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FRENCH GRAY, Azusa Productions, at Heartland Studio Theater. "I was born to glory," says the only character in this one-woman show, the doomed Marie Antoinette. It's the last hour or so of her life, and she's reflecting on it in her cell--a chilly, claustrophobic place well evoked by Andrew Glasenhardt's set.

In Josef Bush's well-researched but chaotic script, Marie Antoinette ranges far afield: we hear gossip about intrigue in the court of Louis XVI, ruminations on the will of God, feeble attempts to identify herself with all women. These quick takes are neither entertaining nor enlightening--instead, because there's no narrative arc, they seem the uncertain, inchoate ramblings of a madwoman.

As played by Maggie Speer, Marie Antoinette is unsympathetic--haughty, cold, and apparently unrepentant, seeking only to face death with dignity. True, biographies indicate Marie Antoinette was probably unlikable--but for Bush, that tack doesn't lead to a deeper understanding of who she was or the motivations for her vain, vapid life. Adam Burke's direction, however, is excellent. Aimee Whitmore's sound, Glasenhardt's lighting, and Speer's graceful movement around the stage make the play seem more intriguing than it is.

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