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BWW Review: EMILIE: LA MARQUISE DU CHÂTELET DEFENDS HER LIFE TONIGHT at Subiaco Arts Centre

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Anatomical Heart productions weaves science, philosophy and humour into the story of a woman overlooked by history.

BWW Review: EMILIE: LA MARQUISE DU CHÂTELET DEFENDS HER LIFE TONIGHT  at Subiaco Arts Centre

Anatomical Heart productions rather fittingly closed their debut performance just as National Science Week was kicking off. Their performance of EMILIE: LA MARQUISE DU CHÂTELET DEFENDS HER LIFE TONIGHT was a treat as much for theatre enthusiasts as it was for science enthusiasts.

Emilie, La Marquise Du Châtelet is a woman almost lost to history. Despite being a brilliant philosopher and scientist in her own right, science's troubled relationship with historical women has her these days as more or less a footnote in the life of her lover, Voltaire. EMILIE: LA MARQUISE DU CHÂTELET DEFENDS HER LIFE TONIGHT seeks to change that, bringing Emilie back to life to reflect upon her achievements. Kate O'Sullivan played the titular Emilie, setting many of the scenes as de-facto narrator but also being central to the discussions and musings that make the play. O'Sullivan really seemed to get into the character, having decoded the dialogue and studied the real-life Emilie to find and understand the motivations behind the decisions she made in life. She reflects on the love, life, science, and philosophy of Emilie's life in a way that shows off the complexity of the character but also allows the audience to follow what is happening.

Joanna Tyler played a younger Emilie, and often appeared on-stage with her older self. Tyler managed to play the part well, and it showed off all the mannerisms and thinking that were reflected and refined in the adult Emilie.

As Voltaire was Alan Gill. Gill balanced the pomp and renown of Voltaire with the fact this play is most definitely not about him, withdrawing or setting up Emilie as necessary to allow her character and intelligence to be the focal point. I spoke to Alan about his own character as well as the play, which you can read here. Nate Teune played the ensemble gentlemen in Emilie's life, such as her father and her husband. He brought enough distinction to each character that the audience could easily tell the difference, whilst also being witty, clueless, charming, and many other things as needed. His timing as each character was superb and added humour to the show. In similarly shifting roles are Hetty Lobegeiger and Kyra Belford-Thomas, who between them play many women in Emilie's life. They were each able to quickly build each different character they played into the narrative and executed the many different roles excellently.

BWW Review: EMILIE: LA MARQUISE DU CHÂTELET DEFENDS HER LIFE TONIGHT  at Subiaco Arts Centre

Balancing the many roles and driving the meaning within the play was director Michelle Ezzy. Whilst the narrative and the scenes sometimes sounded complex, the pace of the show allowed the audience to understand and see the changes and differences. Whilst the show was quite melodramatic, it also conveyed the science that Emilie should be well known for brilliantly. Many of the cast are science communicators and this much was clear, making the ideas comprehensible even for anyone who isn't perhaps scientifically inclined. Whilst Emilie did indeed make many large impacts to science, she also contributed to the arts and philosophy, which is also covered well in the play, ensuring there is something for everyone.

Particularly impressive on a quite minimalistic set was the perfect period costumes to truly transform each character. Overall, LA MARQUISE DU CHÂTELET DEFENDS HER LIFE TONIGHT had a little something for everyone, weaving interesting science and provocative philosophy into a wonderful play about a woman who is somewhat lost to history but really shouldn't be. Anatomical Heart's debut production was excellent and we can only hope that they will continue doing wonderful shows like this.


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From This Author David Bravos