As a devoted fan of swashbucklers, I had high hopes for The Girl in the Iron Mask, a feminist twist on the classic Alexandre Dumas tale. Despite a heroic effort by the Georgetown Theatre Company, the result is only a mixed success due to a muddled script.
This version involves a male/female pair of twins (Louis and Louise) separated at birth. Even aside from credibility problem, the new story is more complicated in both plot and in political objectives, requiring a substantial amount of action-killing exposition. It also leads to an ending that many will find abrupt and unsatisfying.
Despite these dramatic weaknesses, a strong ensemble cast works hard to keep the audience emotionally invested in the outcome even when the story drags. Heather Whitpan gives a stellar performance in the title role, playing both the plucky Louise and a petulant King Louis XIV, and is especially convincing when Louise is impersonating the King.
Several episodes of swordplay are also entertaining. The strongest stage-fighting is demonstrated by Ms. Whitpan and by Amy Quiggins as the heroic nun Artemis, who saves the infant Louise, trains a female guard for the Queen, and orchestrates the plot to replace King Louis with Louise.
If you are hungry for a drama with strong female characters, The Girl in the Iron Mask may be your ticket. If so, you still may want to avoid the sole mid-day performance due to the basement space that lacks air conditioning.
- Running Time: 120 minutes (one intermission)
- Tickets: The Girl in the Iron Mask
- Remaining Shows: Thurs, July 17 at 9 . Sat, July 19 at noon . Sat, July 26 at 5:30 . sUN, jULY 27 AT 5.
- Where: Universalist National Memorial Church . 1810 16th St NW.