When you hear the quote "let them eat cake", you can't help but think of Marie Antoinette. Interestingly enough, there is no official account of the lady ever having said this, and most facts point to it being almost impossible for it to have been coined by her. Performed as part of the Poppy Seed Festival, LadyCake looks at the life of Marie Antoinette through the eyes of three of her handmaidens and how there is much uncertainty on what is fact and what is fiction when it comes to the last Queen of France.
The three performers, Candace
Miles, Madelaine Nunn and Anna Rodway - who also created the story - seem to relish playing the three handmaidens, and to be having real fun in messing with history in such a macabre and ostentatious way. While set in the 18th
century, the script includes references to modern innovations - such as the internet - darkly reminding
us that despite the centuries, the roles women play in society have not
changed that much. This is further highlighted in the scenes where they each play Marie's disapproving mother Maria Theresa, and of the general population who slowly began to turn against the Queen.
Anastasia Poppenburg creates an opulent world in a highly simplistic style with bright pink and green fabrics on display and luscious trees and plants lining the garden where the handmaidens spend their time gossiping. The eventual downfall of the Queen is signified in a bold and devastating manner and the ensuing final moments of LadyCake shows how idle gossip easily becomes confused with fact while also showing the ludicrous expectations that women have to face in a patriarchal society, both then and now.
Furthermore, Lucy Wilkin's garish costumes of large pink froufrou dresses and big blonde poufs perfectly encapsulate the absurd demands these women are meant to adhere to, not only in their service to their Queen, but to society in general.
Three Birds Theatre have come a long way since their 2015 Fringe Festival show, Three Birds Once Cock, which looked at the female characters of Alfred Hitchcock's films. While LadyCake could do with some tightening of the script with scenes that played out too long or just unnecessary, there is huge potential with this company to generate a strong reputation for itself and its unique brand of theatre.
Venue: Trades Hall, 54 Victoria St, Carlton
Season: until 27 November | Tues - Sat 8pm, Sun 4pm
Tickets: $35 Full | $25 Concession
Bookings: Poppy Seed Festival
* Original review appear on Theatre Press on 22 November 2016.
Photo Credit: UA Creative