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From Laetitia in the UK:
I notice in the archives that you have discussed Chauvelin's character at length. I was wondering if you can help me in the same way with Marguerite? Most of her songs at first seem to be quite straight-forward emotionally (I'm thinking of When I Look At You and I'll Forget You), but everytime I look at them I see them a different way - sometimes angry, sometimes desperate, somtimes just hopeless. I find others, like The Riddle and Storybook are also ambiguous. What characteristics do you think the perfect Marguerite would have, especially when performing her solo numbers?


Thursday, 9 June 2005

Dear Laetitia,

I love your question. I also love ambiguity - I think it's one of the most theatrical states of mind one can use and also it's just plain honest. It's the way we all are, and I think too often in the musical theatre, characters are drawn as 100 percent this or that. In SP I deliberately imbued all three major characters with ambiguity because it was the most accurate way to portray their feelings. Percy's ambiguity is obvious - he wants to trust Marguerite and yet he can't. Chauvelin, as you say, I have already discussed, but he is basically torn between his memory of the fresh idealistic days of the early revolution with the lovely Marguerite alongside him and his current state of wanting to hate and use Marguerite even though he still wants her and he knows the revolution has become savage.

But you are asking about Marguerite and rightly so - she is the most ambiguous character in the show. In fact, she is changing throughout. She is an actress - already a chameleon who can transform herself into any role. She was an active revolutionary who now questions it all. She was anti-aristocracy and finds herself falling in love with a British aristocrat. When Percy stops trusting her and becomes cold and foppish, she questions her very love for him. "When I Look At You" is the essence of this ambiguity: I love him, don't I? Oh, no - he's not that man anymore - or is he? And Marguerite's changing feelings continue throughout to the point that she revs herself up to go back to France and fight for her brother. She is full of disguise and confusion and ultimately desperation about Armand. She is often forced to masquerade herself and sometimes she just does this by instinct. Probably the most essential ambiguity to Marguerite is the fact that both she and Chauvelin remember who she used to be, and as Chauvelin says to her "Where's the Girl?" There is still a wantonness and a wildness deep inside her, but she is growing up becoming a different person via being loved by Percy and sensing the goodness and bravery in his heart. I could go on and on about her, but I'll spare you. The bottom line is that she is a very confused woman whom we watch grow and change into the Marguerite who stands beside Percy at the end of the show. Thanks for the great question, Laetitia.

My best to you,
Nan
 
 

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