Theatre 'd Art and Star Bar Players' latest co-production is a smorgasboard of sights and sounds. The title's a mouthful, too.
"The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade" is better known as "Marat/Sade."
The 1963 play by Peter Weiss won four Tony Awards in 1966. It's a play within a play set in 1808, post-French Revolution. Just like the title indicates, the inmates of an asylum act out the assassination of political thinker and journalist Jean-Paul Marat, the leader of a radical faction during the revolution. He is killed by a woman named Charlotte Corday, a member of the conservative party, as he lounges in his bathtub.
"It's startlingly relevant for our political discourse in the country right now," said director Jonathan Margheim. "Depending on who you talk to, (Marat) was a brilliant man or a monster who sent people to the guillotine. You can see him as the Glenn Beck of the left in the French Revolution. The whole play takes on the notion of revolution and social change and looks at it from both sides."
Though there are 12 speaking roles, Margheim said, more than two dozen people will be on stage during the show. The cast of 26 to 28, which includes inmates, asylum nurses and guards, could rival the number of audience members in the Theatre 'd Art space, he said.
"It's one of the hardest things I've done," said Margheim, who last directed "Paradise Lost" for Theatre 'd Art. "I feel like an air traffic controller."
It's local actor Bob Rais' second time performing in the show, but his first time playing the infamous Marquis de Sade.
"I'm a bit of a political firebrand myself," Rais said. "He has a great facility for language. He's well-educated. Some of his stuff is well thought out. I don't believe in class distinctions. ... I'm a bit of a socialist. Those ideals of French Revolution speak to me."
In the midst of it all, "Marat/Sade" is also musical theater. The Rogue Spirits, a local duo comprised of Jeremiah Walter and Travis Duncan, will perform their own arrangements on stage.
"The play deals with almost opposing sorts of forces in it," Margheim said. "It creates an interesting piece of theater, where you have literally everything you can possibly have on stage at once."
Crystal Carter, who plays the murderous Corday, agrees. "It makes you leave with questions," she said. "The music is ridiculously catchy. You'll leave with songs in your head."
Contact Jennifer Mulson at 636-0270, firstname.lastname@example.org
Who: Theatre 'd Art and Star Bar Players
When: 8 p.m. Fridays-Sundays, 4 p.m. Sundays, 8 p.m. Jan. 30, through Feb. 2
Where: Theatre 'd Art, 128 N. Nevada Ave.
Tickets: $15, $12 students, seniors and military, Sunday shows are pay-what-you-can; 357-8321, info@theatre dart.org