In choosing plays for the FSU/Asolo Conservatory each season, the company must take into account the educational as well as the entertainment purposes of the plays. Thus the current production, an adaptation of the 18th-century French comedy The Game of Love and Chance by Pierre Marivaux, presents the MFA students the opportunity to learn a style of acting appropriate to the period and the depiction of certain stock characters. But surely in this case there was also the realization of how perfectly the play would be showcased at the Historic Asolo Theater, itself an 18th-century jewel box.
That comparison is heightened here by Rick Cannon’s set, which offers a reproduction of a theater surround and seating very much like the old Asolo itself. In those seats are a few cast members serving as audience members to the play going on, for The Game of Love and Chance is all about people playing parts.
The action starts when young Silvia (Alicia Dawn Bullen) complains to her servant, Lisette (Devereau Chumrau), that she doesn’t want to marry the fiancé her father, Orgon (Ron Kagan), has planned for her—certainly not without getting to know him first. Unbeknownst to her, the fiancé-to-be, Dorante (Adam Carpenter), has the same reservations. And both hatch the same scheme: to change places with their servants in order to observe the possible betrothed for a while before revealing their true selves. It’s a plan Orgon and his foppish son, Mario (Dane Clark), are willing to abet.
Danny Jones and Deverau Chumrau in The Game of Love and Chance.
While the final outcome of this comedy is never in doubt, there are several things that make it a pleasure to watch. First, there is the contemporary-sounding adaptation by Stephen Wadsworth, which makes the intricate dialogue all very easy to follow. Second, there are some almost blindingly fun costumes by Amy Cianci, a mix of period and more modern and, in the case of Lisette and her servant counterpart, Harlequin (Danny Jones), colorful blasts of pink, orange and yellow. (By the way, Michelle Hart’s wigs are in some cases comic punches of their own.) Third, there are some bright performances by the cast, most notably Jones and Chumrau, who get to indulge in some of the broader, more physical playing as their lust/love for each other develops.
At just two hours with intermission, The Game of Love and Chance is played here in appropriately fast-paced style. It continues through May 2; call 351-8000 or go to asolo.org.