“Marat/Sade”, produced by Ray Tatar of California Stage and directed by Kent Johnson, is a must see. You must be prepared for some gruesome language and extremely violent political points of view, courtesy of the German playwright Peter Weiss. But that’s the way it was in the French Revolution, a time in history with a vast amount of unrest, gross cultural misunderstandings, extreme rantings, and a level of concerted violence not even imagined by most of us so-called civilized people.
Marquis de Sade has been immortalized by Weiss with due reference to his gruesome novels and subsequent quasi scientific research. Sade is played brilliantly by Richard Spierto, whose diction and dress are of museum quality.
Jean-Paul Marat, played with impressive oratory by Mark Gonzalez, makes this a drama so spell-binding you cannot leave your seat or miss a word. And not a word was missed by the cast on this opening night in July.
All of the twenty five supporting actors were right on with their collection of twenty songs and dances that would put our Music Circus acts to shame. Especially delightful is Penny Kline as Rossignol who has wholeheartedly entered this decadent world, and can sing like a thrush about it.
There is even a role for the play’s producer, Ray Tatar, immaculately dressed in the period’s aristocratic costumery and seeking to tone down the stridency of his actors. They won’t be stilled, and the play proceeds apace.
The lighting and sound were right on. A really together ensemble of CSUS music students brings out the best of the songs and dances. The big, big stage was well lit and the iron bars indicating this was Charenton, the infamous French insane asylum, were very convincing.
The play has a forward motion that makes it too soon over. The audience didn’t seem to want to leave and neither did I.
“Marat/Sade” has a few performances left this weekend (Aug. 8,9, & 10) in its 3-week run at California Stage. Patrons purchase tickets soon by calling 916-451-5822 or visiting www.brownpapertickets.com. Plan to get to the theater on 25th and R Street by 7:45pm to get a choice of seat. Parking is plentiful along R Street. For more information about the play, visit www.calstage.org.