The Game of Love and Chance, Baron's Court Theatre - Youth shines in French Farce

Mariveux's classic French Farce has been adapted to 1965 London by Matthew Partridge

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The Independent Culture

Pierre de Mariveux’s 1730 classic French Farce The Game of Love and Chance (La Jeu de l’amour et du hasard) has been given Anglicised rebrand by British writer and director Matthew Partridge. The beautiful, subterranean vaults of the Baron’s Court Theatre play host to the production, one which reminds one heartily of the dramatic potential of the raw power of youth.

It’s probably best to mention at the outset that the adaptive aspect doesn’t quite come off. Set in ‘swinging’ London in 1965, the play’s desire to situate itself saw a few crowbarred references to Roger Moore, Audrey Hepburn and The Rolling Stones. These clobbered their way out from the script at rather odd times and couldn't help but slightly stifle the flow of the dialogue.

However, the youthful cast complemented the airy irreverence of Marivaux’s original well. Alexis Coward dripped in smut playing the invasive matchmaker trying to marry off brattish Sylvia (Flora Ogilvy) to Dorian (Michael Timney). Under her positively Shakespearean methods, maids become ladies, lords become butlers and it all made one rather grateful for the likes of Tinder in this day and age.

Ogilvy certainly looked the part of the spoilt socialite Sylvia and played the role with a loftiness that trod the line between irritating and spellbinding very well. Timney as her suitor bumbled appropriately but, while individually impressive, their chemistry as a couple (and it feels necessary to add that they agree to marry within about half a minute of meeting) wasn’t quite there.

Overall it is a lack of satisfaction and excitement over the blooming relationships that can't help but slightly let the play down. Alain English as ‘Dog and Duck’ loving butler Charlie, despite revelling entertainingly in exerting some vengeful command over his master, never quite wins the crowd over romantically. It seems almost incomprehensible as to why the sharp and likeable maid, played impressively by Elicia Murphy, would fall for his “Bring me some pancakes woman!” level of charm.

Ultimately though, this is an enjoyable, ribald romp of a production and the actors in particular deserve credit for some dynamic performances all round.

THE GAME OF LOVE AND CHANCE

(Adapted and Directed by Matthew Partridge)

From 28th July 2015 to 16th August 2015

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