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'Marat/Sade' channels revolutionary yearnings and glorious excess from 1789 to 2012

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Rumi Missabu and Bonni Suval in Marat/Sade
PHOTOS BY DANIEL NICOLETTA

Before he dies, Marat suffers three separate visits by Corday (played by a delicately incandescent Bonni Suval, as a narcoleptic and melancholic beauty with volcanic depths). But the real purpose of this thin plotline is the airing of competing viewpoints on the nature of revolution, freedom, power, individuality, social solidarity, authority, and (more implicitly) art's role as a site of radical alternatives.

To this end, the large and able cast has its say in song and other outbursts, variously hysterical, macabre, louche, and chilling. But the preeminent voices are Sade, Marat, Corday, and Roux — all of whom attack, from competing angles, the problem of resistance in the modern age, where bureaucratic class-rule comes in the name of democracy, liberty, equality, fraternity, and other terms appropriated by the modern state.

Effortlessly recalling recent popular uprisings across a shuddering planet, these archetypal voices of dissent sound as alive as ever in Weiss's eloquent dialogue — an iridescent mix of the philosophical, poetical, and scatological. As the cast belts out for a final time the show's blunt refrain, "We want our revolution now!", the actors spill over the stage and the inmates take over the asylum, enveloping the audience in a coup d'état that is simultaneously a coup de theatre, and a thoroughly carnivalesque upending of norms. It's enough to make you lose your head.

MARAT/SADE

Through July 29

Wed-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 7pm (also Sun/22, 1:30pm), $20-$38

Brava Theatre

2781 24th St, SF

(415) 863-0611

www.ticketfly.com

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