It's easy to draw parallels between Marie Antoinette's story and our current world situation, right down to the malicious "autobiography" that told nothing but lies. ("Fake news" is nothing new.)
What's more interesting — and true of the best parts of Walking Shadow Theatre Company's new production — is the journey she made. Playwright David Adjmi puts a modern spin on the dialogue as we take a dizzying tour through two decades of her life, all the way up to her date with Madame Guillotine. The breezy approach barely gives us a chance to connect with the title character (or her husband, the equally clueless Louis XVI) as Adjmi tries to pack a season's worth of plot into a 90-minute play.
The second half sharpens, as the royal family finds itself under siege from the revolutionaries and the sheer folly of its previous lives comes into focus. This is aided by Jane Froiland's performance as Marie. Froiland gives us a person clearly out of her depth when trouble comes, but with a steely resolve to survive and escape even as that becomes impossible. It's a performance that commands our attention, even when Marie does something utterly boneheaded, such as interrupting an escape attempt to ask some locals what windmills are for.
John Heimbuch directs with his usual confidence and attention to detail, and gets the most out of Adjmi's sometimes lackluster script. Solid performances up and down the cast help, but Froiland — naturally — leaves the deepest impression.
Ed Huyck is a Twin Cities theater critic.