WAM Theatre exists on two levels: to produce work that foregrounds women playwrights and performers, and to tangibly support, with a portion of ticket sales, organizations that work to better the lives of women and girls. Emilie: La Marquise Du Chatelet Defends Her Life Tonight brings its own bifurcated story to that mission.
In Lauren Gunderson’s delightfully witty and provocative play, the 18th-century mathematician, philosopher and linguist comes briefly back from the dead to make her case for a life that was equal parts intellect and passion. The woman who, from girlhood, was said to “flaunt her mind,” also flaunted social conventions by engaging in a long-term adulterous affair with the controversial philosopher-poet Voltaire and by refusing to be “a mere appendage” to some great man, proving herself an intellectual force in the male-dominated Enlightenment. Kristen van Ginhoven’s exuberantly physical production likewise draws out the mind/heart parallels, as Emilie (a dazzling Kim Stauffer) seeks, by squaring a Newtonian equation, to define the universal “Living Force.”