Emilie du Chatelet, the 18th century scientific genius best known for her translation of Isaac Newton’s Principia Mathematica into French, was the subject of Echo Theatre’s recent reading of “Emilie: La Marquise Du Chalet Defends Her Life Tonight,” by playwright Lauren Gunderson.
The reading, held Tuesday evening at the Bath House Cultural Center, featured Ellen Locy as Emilie and Adrian Spencer Churchill as the charming and boyish Voltaire.
Emily and Voltaire’s relationship, a main storyline in the play, was a nice balance between that of mutual respect and self-absorption, at least on Voltaire’s part. Churchill’s portrayal of Voltaire recalled that of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s character Sandy Lyle in “Along Came Polly,” — but in the best way possible — as a shameless, endearing, and delightfully risqué foil to Emilie’s intensity.
Locy aptly portrayed Emilie’s contagiously inquisitive nature, using the set’s markers and giant notepads to show her inner struggles with love and philosophy throughout the performance.
The delivery of Gunderson’s comical and quick-witted dialogue — captivating enough for those perhaps less interested in physics and philosophy — far surpassed what one would expect from a free performance.
Echo Theatre’s next readings will be held at the Bath House Cultural Center on June 12 and 13 at 7:30 p.m., featuring “a surprise selection to celebrate LGBT month” that will be posted on Echo Theatre’s website soon.
All performances are free. (And for an extra dose of culture, guests can check out the latest art exhibits at the museum during intermission for free too.)
Click here to read Advocate’s article on the origins of Echo Theatre.