REVIEW: “Emilie: La Marquise du Chatelet Defends Her Life Tonight” @ Shakespeare & Co. [Berkshire on Stage]
Review by Macey Levin
Emilie: La Marquise Du Chalet Defends Her Life Tonight by Lauren Gunderson is receiving a high-energy remounting by WAM Theatre at Shakespeare & Co.’s Tina Packer Playhouse in Lenox. It was previously performed in 2013 in a highly praised production. The original WAM cast has reunited to once again bring an electric piece of theater to a Berkshire stage.
Emilie du Chalet died at the age of 42 in Paris in 1748. She had built a career for herself that was unheard of for a woman as a physicist, a mathematician, a translator, an author and, though married, the famed Voltaire’s mistress. When Emilie greets us at the very opening of the play, she has just passed away. She proceeds to tell us of her life in order to define the kind of woman she was so that history and we will remember her.
Married to a military man who is often away fighting in France’s wars, she indulges her passion for physics to the detriment of her daughter. She also indulges her need for Voltaire, the famed scientist/philosopher. Her initial relationship with him is on a professional level as they work through various mathematical problems in preparation of a book. Due to his romantic escapades she offers him the use of a rural house and joins him there as his lover.