High and lowbrow antics at the Centaur

By Alidor Aucoin on March 12, 2012

love_chance.jpgThe Game of Love and Chance at the Centaur Theatre until April 1st  is a  deliciously theatrical, interpretation of  Pierre Carlet de Chamberlain de Marivaux’s  18th century piece  Le jeu de l’amour et du hasard.   Adapted and translated from the French into English by  Nicolas Billon and directed with overheated   passion  by Matthew Jocelyn, the artistic director of Toronto’s Canadian Stage Theatre, the co-production is  a contemporary reworking  of the classic.

Marivaux is either turning over in his grave or applauding this  audacious   90 minute  retelling of his romantic comedy.  The   story  involves the duplicitous couplings and mistaken identities of a pair of high- bred aristocrats pretending to be low-bred servants.  Of course the social order is compromised, and what we have here  is a kind of gallic  l’abbe Downton  with guffaws.

Orgon  (William Webster) has told his headstrong  daughter,  Sylvia (Trish Lindstrom)  that he will not consent to her arranged marriage to  Dorante  (Harry Judge) if she doesn’t like the guy.   So   Sylvia pretends to be her maid  Lisette,  (Gemma James Smith)  in order to check out her suitor from a distance. And   Lisette pretends to be Sylvia.  Adding to the confusion, is the fact that   Dorante, too,  switches roles with his valet,  Arlequino   (Gil Garratt).  The servants, too, discover a mutual   attraction for each   other, but of course no one can  disclose  their true identities  until the their respective relationships are sorted out.  Will love prevail?

The action takes place in  a  highly  stylized  mirrored drawing room of a French Chateau  designed by Anick La Bissonniere.

Actors zip in and out of doors,   making their entrances and exits in spectacular fashion,  - none more spectacular than Gil  Garratt’s  campy   Arlequino.   Garrett upstages everyone with his rubber-kneed antics. Gemma James Smith, with her pop-eyes, and admirable energy is no slouch at scene stealing either.  With a nod to the exaggerated   style of  Commedia dell’Arte, much of the hilarity in the chatty play is the pure slapstick.

Although the  goings on around  him are frenetic,  William Webster as  Orgon,  - who is in on the game of deception -  gets honest laughs with his solid delivery.   Zack Fraser rounds out the cast as Sylvia’s brother, Mario.  Feather boas and garish   costumes  clash with the lipstick red  walls , mirrored  set  and sparkling chandelier.  Bursts of sound   punctuate  scene changes, including Vivaldi’s highly appropriate  Gloria.

This Toronto-Montreal co-production   is  as bracing as a splash of Coca-Cola  in a glass of Chateau Lafitte Rothschild.   Purists may complain. It may not be to everyone’s taste.   But, hey, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.


Please login to post comments.

Editorial Staff

Beryl P. Wajsman

Redacteur en chef et Editeur

Alan Hustak

Senior Editor

Daniel Laprès


Robert J. Galbraith


Roy Piberberg

Editorial Artwork

Mike Medeiros

Copy and Translation

Val Prudnikov

IT Director and Web Design

Editorial Contributors
La Patrie