By George Maguire
Shotgun Players continues their “Season of Love” with a spirited and gloriously designed production of Pierre de Marivoux’s 1732 comedy-drama The Triumph of Love.
Marivoux was a worthy 18th Century successor to Moliere and Racine, twisting vulnerability and amour de coeur with deception, cross dressing, and hysterical commedia del arte improvisational aplomb. This production is adapted and translated by renowned Stephen Wadsworth.
…Triumph of Love is a triumph…
The play brings us into the Age of Enlightenment, when discoveries of reason and intellect were heralded. Galileo’s treatise on the planets, Isaac Newton’s theories, the Declaration of Independence and the founding of America, and the French Revolution were some of the historical highlights of the time. Women were celebrated as independent thinkers and men often were parodied as buffoons in their quest to conquer the opposite sex.
The Triumph of Love tells the story of Leonide (a stunning performance by Veronica Renner) who cross-dresses as a man called Phocion to enter the household of her enemy Hermocrates (regal David Boyll). Her initial aim is to meet her rival for the throne Agis (Edward Im), the usurped son of the king of Sparta now living under the protection of Hermacrates.
As both a man and a woman, Leonide seduces the servants and the aristocrats alike, making marriage proposals and wielding her wiles into a spider web of conniving. Only a playwright as astute as Marivoux could concoct the intricate confusions involved.
The Shotgun cast is exceptional. Ms. Renner establishes herself as a new voice in the Bay Area with each choice she makes. Logical and rich in depth, she and director Patrick Dooley find not just the humor but also an imperious streak of meanness in her revenge. Brava!
The clowns are played with rich detail and fun by a commedia masked Jamin Jollo, whose body always finds a new way of movement and agility, and our spirit guide Wayne Wong – always on the periphery waiting to be summoned and knowing just a bit more than anyone else on stage.
Edward Im is a sweet and gentle Agis bringing himself and us to tears as he realizes his love for first Leonide’s boy and then Leonide’s girl. The two other women (Corine – Leonide’s companion) and Leontine (Hermacrate’s sister) are beautifully delineated and defined by renowned actor/directors Susannah Martin and Mary Ann Rodgers.
Malcolm Rodgers has designed a magnificent estate garden (beautifully lit by Spense Matubang) complete with a lily pond and hanging greenery offering the cast places to hide, peek and dash. Costumer Ashley Renee has arrayed the cast in lush, character specific attire.
Patrick Dooley’s spot-on direction is a pure celebration of this ”season of love.” Triumph of Love is a triumph for the inventive and redoubtable Shotgun Players.
ASR Contributing Writer George Maguire is a San Francisco based actor and director. and a voting member of the SF Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle. He is a Professor Emeritus of Solano College. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
|Production||The Triumph of Love|
|Written by||Pierre de Marivaux, adapted and translated by Stephen Wadsworth.|
|Directed by||Patrick Dooley|
|Producing Company||Shotgun Players|
Video On Demand
|Mar 25-May 7th|
|Production Address||1901 Ashby Avenue, Berkeley CA 94705|
|Tickets||Dynamic Pricing Per Show|
|Reviewer Score||Max in each category is 5/5|
|Aisle Seat Review Pick?||----|