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  Marie Antoinette at Steppenwolf Theatre

Marie Antoinette

Steppenwolf Theatre
1650 N. Halsted Chicago

Before Britney Spears and Justin Bieber, there was Marie Antoinette. In David Adjmi's contemporary take on the young queen of France, Marie is a confection created by a society that values extravagance and artifice. But France's love affair with the royals sours as revolution brews, and for Marie, the political suddenly becomes very personal. From the light and breezy banter at the palace to the surging chants of "Liberte! Egalite! Fraternite!" in the streets, Marie Antoinette holds a mirror up to our contemporary society that might just be entertaining itself to death.

Thru - May 10, 2015

Price: $58-$86

Stage: Upstairs Theatre

Show Type: Drama

Box Office: 312-335-1650

Running Time: 2hrs, 10mins

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  Marie Antoinette Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune - Somewhat Recommended

"...The problem with "Marie Antoinette" (previously seen at Soho Rep in New York) is not really to do with its runway designs (the costumes by Dede M. Ayite certainly pop the eyeballs), nor its hip dialogue, nor its self-awareness. The issue is that as you watch this show you become increasingly convinced that no one sufficiently figured out what they really wanted to say about Marie Antoinette, not so much a central character as a mash-up, with no eye to the potato."
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Chris Jones

Chicago Sun Times - Highly Recommended

"...Adjmi's play, quite fittingly, requires its leading actress to deliver a diva-like performance. And in its Chicago debut at the Steppenwolf Upstairs Theatre, under the stylish direction of Robert O'Hara, ensemble member Alana Arenas more than lives up to her royal assignment, imperceptibly morphing from a haughty, homesick, largely uneducated girl of 21 to a bereft but still proud widow and mother who, at the age of 37, with flea-ridden hair unceremoniously chopped off, is led to the guillotine as part of the massive blood-letting of the French Revolution."
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Hedy Weiss

Chicago Reader - Somewhat Recommended

"...What I can't understand is why playwright David Adjmi would care to repeat Coppola's exercise so faithfully onstage, in his own Marie Antoinette. Directed here by Robert O'Hara, with a cast featuring some of the finest actors Steppenwolf Theatre has to waste, Adjmi's 2012 script follows essentially the same trajectory as Coppola's in pursuit of essentially the same insights."
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Tony Adler

Windy City Times - Highly Recommended

"...The Steppenwolf design team has crafted a stage picture overflowing with conspicuous consumer-porn to delight envious audiences. ( A post-run auction of Dede M. Ayite's costumes could plausibly generate enough money to finance the next two productions. ) Tim Hopper has contrived to visibly shrink his physique in approximation of the epicene, Tamberla Perry and Ericka Ratcliff make a loyal pair of BFFs, and Alan Wilder salvages a modicum of dignity portraying a fur coat-clad woolly-beast. Ultimately, however, the two hours ( with intermission ) emerges chiefly a starpower turn—a challenge that Arenas confronts with a swagger and dazzle that wins our admiration and, later, a vulnerability likewise ensuring our sympathy."

Mary Shen Barnidge

Time Out Chicago - Highly Recommended

"...Adjmi-a rising New York playwright receiving his first major production in Chicago-fashions his Marie as a bit of a socialite philosopher, spending only the outrageous amounts of money she's been raised to spend as someone who was bred to be a geopolitical transaction, but just self-aware enough to say things like, "Sometimes I feel like a game that other people play, but without me.""
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Kris Vire

Stage and Cinema - Somewhat Recommended

"...Marie Antoinette is special to see but not hear. Half-baked content aside, this is a gloriously cheesy spectacle of scenic/costumed overkill. We’re regaled with a Slumdog Millionaire fantasy in sequins, gems, roses, fireworks, and rock mock. If a flashy fulmination of stylistic excess is your dream night at the theater, this Vogue Versailles is open for pleasure."
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Lawrence Bommer

Splash Magazine - Somewhat Recommended

"...Overall, I found myself wanting to be drawn into this play by its talented cast and the visual design elements, but yet I still struggled to connect with the story and its characters on an emotional, personal and even intellectual level. Everything felt so hallow and alien that it was hard to connect. By far the biggest issue I had with “Marie Antoinette” is that I felt constantly distracted by the play’s modern tone, so much so that the story itself tended to recede into the background. I wanted to get into this play. I love European history and I really tried to enjoy it, but that disconnect between the time periods was too much and I just couldn’t get into it."
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Justin LeClaire

ChicagoCritic - Somewhat Recommended

"...Despite the rich design and committed actors, the show lacks stakes because the characters are too passive. Steppenwolf's production team made clear the point of the show is to draw a parallel between Marie Antoinette and contemporary celebrity entertainers, hence the hip hop and glam. But that basically misunderstands her and the French Revolution's place in history. If anyone today is similar to Marie Antoinette, it is the likes of Asma Al-Assad, Imelda Marcos, and Patience Jonathan, not Kim Kardashian. Entertainers don't have any power and only make what people are willing to pay them, but Versailles was built on global tyranny. Forcing that comparison requires the Bourbons to be completely harmless and makes more of an issue of how they spent their money than how they obtained it, which is neither insightful nor compelling drama."
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Jacob Davis

Chicago Stage Standard - Highly Recommended

"...Steppenwolf has hit one out of the park again with another great production. This one should be on everyone's must-see list. It is an innovative and original look at one of history's most famous cautionary tales."

Drew Wancket

NewCity Chicago - Highly Recommended

"...Under the gleefully propulsive direction of New York theater artist Robert O'Hara, Steppenwolf's Marie Antoinette also has the benefit of being portrayed by the fiercely intelligent and elegantly crass Alana Arenas. Her performance alone makes Marie a woman worthy of our attention."
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Alex Huntsberger

Chicago Theatre Review - Somewhat Recommended

"...Robert O’Hara’s production is a spectacular treat for the eye and ear. It’s sumptuous and eye popping, featuring a set, costumes, wigs and a soundtrack that will be the talk of the town for years to come. Indeed, David Adjmi’s play could only be produced by a theatre company that sports a healthy budget. But a play that demands so much specialized technical artistry ought to at least have something unique to say about its subject. Alas, this play is primarily all flash, splash and not much panache. Except for reminding theatergoers of a smattering of facts from French history, there are very few lessons to be gleaned from this play."
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Colin Douglas

Chicagoland Theater Reviews - Highly Recommended

"...For all its visual, comic, and dramatic felicities, "Marie Antoinette" belongs to Alana Arenas. Marie is a demanding role, with the actress rarely off the stage and sometimes committed to extensive revelatory monologues. Arenas marvelously captures queen in all her complexities--silly, infuriating, and ultimately sympathetic and comprehending, if not brave. One can leave the theater actually feeling sorry of Marie Antoinette, a young woman dealt a bad hand by fate during her lifetime and often treated as a ditzy and callous mini tyrant by history. She must have been a fascinating woman for all her contradictions and she makes for entertaining and stimulating company in Arenas's glowing and insightful performance."

Dan Zeff

The Fourth Walsh - Somewhat Recommended

"...The show is a flashy, slick designer showcase: Clint Ramos (Scenic), Dede M. Ayite (Costume), Japhy Weideman (Lighting), Lindsay Jones (Original Music and Sound), Jeff Sugg (Projection) and Dave Bova (Hair and Makeup). Unfortunately, the monarchy is overthrown in Act 1. The pageantry is pretty much over after that. Act 2 has to rely on the script which is missing information for it to be cohesive. This revolt is reduced down to a twitter stream of negativity to take down a celebrity. The story glosses over what's really going on. Adjimi even creates a talking sheep to give perspective on morality and humanity. Come on! That's just odd!"
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Katy Walsh

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   This show has been Jeff Recommended*

*The designation of "Jeff Recommended" is given to a production when at least ONE ELEMENT of the show was deemed outstanding by the Joseph Jefferson Awards Committee.

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