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‘Legacy of Light’ at Horizon Theatre

2011 April 18

Leigh Campbell-Taylor and Allan Edwards

Horizon Theatre’s “Legacy of Light” is a one of the best period piece I’ve seen in Atlanta in years.

Too bad it has a modern side to it.

Leigh Campbell-Taylor and Allan Edwards are stupendous as the French lovers mathematician Émilie du Châtelet and philosopher Voltaire, who actually had an affair in the 1700s, while du Châtelet was married. Watching these two perform whisks you into the 18th century allowing you sneak peeks at their clandestine rendezvous.

But alas, before you know it you’re thrown right back into the 21st century and have to listen to a  mundane modern couple talk about their jobs and their desire to have a baby.

There’s a Shakespeare-like “Twelfth Night” mirror image of the French lovers and the modern married couple, scientist Millie (Kate Donadio) and her school teacher husband, Peter (Robin Bloodworth). But, for me, it’s formulaic and the modern scenes fall flat and interrupt a great story.

My companion, however, a playwright who agreed with my thoughts after the first half of the show, was in tears by the end of the play. She said that playwright Karen Zacarias, an Atlanta native, did a wonderful job bringing the past together with the future  and that the story of the modern-day couple was just as real for her as the story of the that of French lovers Voltaire and Émilie du Châtelet.

Not my thoughts, but they are the thoughts of Letitia Sweitzer, who is an award-winning playwright. Here is what she wrote to me in an email:

“I think the combination of the two stories, while seeming redundant at first,  was brilliant as it really came together comfortably and meaningfully in the second act. I also thought that it was surprising, and fitting, and therefore deft of the playwright that the surrogate mother character ended up in the spotlight in the final scenes.”

Directed by Susan Reid, the cast includes Corey Bradberry and Lane Carlock.

“Legacy of Light” runs through May 8 at Horizon Theatre.

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