THE GAME OF LOVE AND CHANCE by Marivaux, adapted and translated by Nicolas Billon (Canadian Stage). At the Bluma Appel (27 Front East). To May 12. $20-$99. 416-366-7723. See Continuing. Rating: NNN
Written in 1730 by Marivaux, a French dramatist now often overlooked in favour of his countryman Molière, The Game Of Love And Chance is light and fluffy but still amusing. Silvia (Trish Lindström) and Dorante (Harry Judge) are young, eligible aristocrats about to meet by parental arrangement, but each decides to switch places with a servant in order to secretly observe the other.
The characters are one-dimensional stereotypes drawn from the commedia dell'arte tradition, but hilariously exaggerated movements, inventive staging and a snappy new translation by Nicolas Billon keep this chestnut feeling dynamic.
While the entire cast squeezes every last drop of funny out of the script, Gil Garratt and Gemma James-Smith, who play the two servants suddenly thrust into high society, stand out. Garratt plays Arlequino with a full-on knavish glee that's part slovenly rock star and part court jester with ADHD, and scores the biggest laughs for his fabulously overblown entrances.
Director Matthew Jocelyn uses Anick La Bissonnière's intriguing set design (involving two movable mirror walls) to create some visuals nicely evocative of the themes of identity and deception.
But even at a tight 90 minutes, the shenanigans get a little tedious, and the constant stream of high-strung babble loses its colour toward the end.