Marivaux’ very witty and cheerfully affirming “Play of Love and Chance” is an excellent success at the Fritz-Rémond-Theater in Frankfurt.
Pierre Carlet de Marivaux’ comedy The Game of Love and Chance, which premiered in 1730, is perfectly constructed and breathes the sweet, fresh air of falling in love, enlightened educational principles and an egoism that does no serious harm. Because the last, but also successful test, before Silvia’s Dorante – he is supposed to hold her hand, although he has to take her for a maid – has more vanity than love attached to it. In this piece, women are (even) more vain than men. In view of the psychologically convincing overall process, there is only a weak contradiction here.
The great role reversal
In short, it’s about the following: Silvia and Dorante’s marriage was planned from afar by the fathers, who, however, anti-Molierian, want to leave the decision to their children. Independently of each other, Marivaux lets both daughter and son come up with the idea of swapping roles with the servants for the first meeting, in order to view the father’s choice from a distance. Silvia swaps costume and rank with her French maid Lisette, Dorante has already done the same off-screen with his servant Arlequin. Silvia’s father and brother, Orgon and Mario, are informed about everything and gently pull the strings – we are in a commedia dell’arte confusion and freedom is a fine thing, but custom and order still prevail. Still, it’s great fun and ends well.
Despite the masquerade, Silvia and Dorante fall in love with each other. Lisette and Arlequin also immediately take a liking to each other, who in turn appear as embarrassing nouveau riches. Because of course the temporary carnival is unfair. Servant and maid rightly hoped to make the match of their lives. The burning question is also what would have happened if the four hadn’t fallen in love with the “right” combination.
Although the question does not arise within the play, which tells of a triumph of enlightenment in a conservative framework: just freedom leads to a result that keeps the course of things in balance in the most beautiful way. Is that acceptable? What to do with our uneasiness that Marivaux’s staff still has no words for?
Director Heinz Kreidl has planned his own final volt for his brilliant production at the Fritz Remond Theater in Frankfurt. Lisette and Arlequin now know what’s going on. It’s all a bit embarrassing, but they get along. Self-mockery is less foreign to them than to the gentlemen. But that’s no reason to make fun of them. But Kreidl allows exactly that to happen: Lisette and Arlequin, ready to end the game good-naturedly, stand on the table as if on a stage, but the laughter of the fine people breaks out excessively. Suddenly Lisette has a red flag on her pitchfork, and how did the pistol get into Arlequin’s hands? The others don’t notice anything, content as they are. 60 years later we will see who has the last laugh.
An unobtrusive punchline on a deeply playful evening, conceivable for the longing for the theater in these weeks, which are already becoming so thin again. The text is witty, the wardrobe by Ulla Röhrs chic, the stage to play well, by Tom Grasshof with crayon-colored walls, exits, a staircase, a swing and abstract but not cold.
The Righteous Anger
The ensemble is cheerful and fit: Carolin Freund is the coquettish Silvia (whose misgivings about husbands don’t seem to be unfounded, by the way, nobody contradicts her horrific examples), Thomas Jansen is the sympathetic Dorante. Katarina Schmidt and Thomas Zimmer as Lisette and Arlequin offer a bravura change of register between humanity, all too human letting go and the germination of just anger.
You like the cool guardians of these passions, Marko Pustisek as Orgon and Pascal Simon Grote as Mario, as much or as little as Don Alfonso in “Così fan tutte”. But they also bring momentum. A happy tightrope walk for a constellation that commonly leads to tragedies.
Fritz Rémond Theater, Frankfurt: until February 27. www.fritzremond.de