January 24, 2021
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March madness in local plays

  • Women dealing with madness

By: Janet and Lanny Lowery
March 22, 2019

March Madness comes to Sonoma County theaters.  Three plays, beginning in March and ending in early April, provide madness without the nets, the basketball and the players in baggy shorts.  “The Revolutionists,” which opened Fri. at 6th Street Playhouse, shows women dealing with the madness of the French Revolution.  “A Perfect Ganesh,” which will run from March 29 through April 14 at the Cinnabar in Petaluma, follows two older women making a spiritual journey who will have their own form of chaos.  “Barbeque Apocalypse,” also opens March 29 at Spreckels and will run through April 18, offers a little middle class madness on the back deck of a suburban home.

“The Revolutionists” at 6th Street Playhouse

The madness began Fri. night at the 6th Street Playhouse.  We enter into what is called meta theatre.  The drama all takes place in the mind of Olympe de Gouges, a playwright from history who actually started her own theater company in Paris just prior to the French Revolution.  In 1791 she pointed out that the revolutionary concept of equality did not include women or people of color.  A critic of the Reign of Terror, Olympe has an interior monologue about the four protagonists as she prepares herself for her own execution.

Along with Olympe, two other figures from history and one from fiction meet in the inner world of Olympe’s imagination as she is writing a play about the French Revolution.  Marie Antoinette and Marie-Anne Charlotte de Corday d’Armont, actual figures of the time, and Marianne Angelle, a fictitious character based on La Marianne and the Haitian Revolution represent different archetypes of womanhood.  Marie shows strength and grace as she loses her place in society and ultimately her life.  Charlotte represents righteousness as she acts for a cause greater than herself.  Marianne, single mother and political activist, fights for all kinds of freedom.

Olympe, as a writer, fights to place her thoughts on paper because she believes that words create truth.  Freedom, strength of character, righteousness and truth, these values emerge through the four women but really through Olympe’s imagination and determination to create a legacy that points to true freedom and a voice that will not be forgotten.  The playwright, Lauren Gunderson writes: “In the end, the entire play is in Olympe’s mind as she walks up the stairs, onto the scaffold and to her death.”

“The Revolutionists” plays through April 7.   Tickets can be purchased online at 6thstreetplayhouse.com or by calling 707-523-3544.

“A Perfect Ganesh” at Cinnabar Theater

What could be madder than for two very rich, middle-aged women to travel to India for a spiritual journey rather than opt for their more usual vacation spots in the Caribbean?  Yet, Margaret Civil and Katherine Brynne choose to go to India as they struggle with the concept of inner peace as their journey takes place in the Cinnabar Theater.

Katharine and Margaret, two very American women in a different country, provide some comic relief.  Both healing from the deaths of their sons, select India also as the perfect country to find some peace.  They have Ganesha as their tour guide.  Ironically, the name means “wisdom.”  Ganesha, a Hindu god, not just one person, is able to change form and this leads to many twists in their journey.  

One reviewer, Paulanne Simmons, wrote about the two travellers, “The interaction between the two women, at one moment catty and the next comforting, both sets them apart and strikes a familiar chord with anyone who has ever participated in or observed female bonding.”  Reviewer David Gordon gives one clue about the connection between the women:  “’A Perfect Ganesh’ is certainly a bit of McNally’s (the playwright’s) response to the AIDS crisis.”

The play has its moments of depth and brightness tempered by sentimentality and laughter.  Directed by Michael Fontaine, the play features Elly Lichenstein and Laura Jorgensen along with John Browning and Helen Patel.  The play begins March 29 and runs through April 14.  Tickets may be purchased online at boxoffice@cinnabartheater.org or call 707-763-8920.

“Barbeque Apocalypse” at Spreckels

Another form of madness appears on the back deck of an average house in the suburbs in “Barbeque Apocalypse” presented at Spreckels Performing Arts Center.  As three couples gather, the hosts, Mike and Deb, worry about the appearance of their home, their careers, their barbequing skills and everything else that they can feel inferior about.  

The other two couples bring their own petty annoyances to the party.  The successful Ash annoys his wife Lulu to the point where she gets drunk very quickly.  Win, full of confidence, sees himself as charming.  Glory, Win’s new girlfriend, so beautiful and so young, seems difficult to accept to the older women.  Feelings get hurt as the party progresses.  The terrible little barbeque ends with all discovering that the rest of the world has been falling apart as they have been squabbling.

The second act takes place on the same deck one year later as the couples gather to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the apocalypse.  The measure of success, no longer petty and superficial, is based on the ability to survive.   We see how each character either adapted and survived or was pushed to the brink of extinction.

Spreckels alerts prospective audience members:  “While very funny, “Barbeque Apocalypse contains sexual language and a graphic act of violence.  Were it a film, it would probably be rated R.”  That warning probably just increased ticket sales.  Get ahead of the stampede by purchasing tickets online at www. spreckelsonline.com or call 707-588-3400.  The show begins Mar. 29 and runs through Apr. 18.

This March madness of plays has no brackets.  Leave your modest suburban back yard deck, travel back in time to the French Revolution and then take an inner journey to India to find your inner peace.  With careful planning, all three plays should easily fit into your schedule along with the college basketball.