With all the talk about the Broadway-bound musical, Triumph Of Love, it's easy to forget the show was based on an 18th century comedy of the same name. All but forgotten until two years ago, Pierre Carlet de Marivaux (1688-1763) has become ubiquitous on regional and institutional theatre stages, with his satirical looks at class and love: The Game Of Love And Chance, The Double Inconstancy and the 1732 Triumph.
A new production of the comedy began previews May 7, at the Actors Theatre of Louisville, KY. The staging is by Jon Jory (producing director of the theatre), utilizing Stephen Wadsworth's 1992 adaptation. The production, which centers around a princess who conceals her true identity to woo the rightful heir to the throne, opens tonight, May 8, and runs to June 1.
Starring are Angela Reed (Princess Leonide), Twyla Hafermann, V. Craig Heidenreich, Fred Major, Joseph Haj, Robyn Hunt and William McNulty. Designing Triumph are John Conklin (sets), Marcia Dixcy Jory (costumes), Amy Appleyard (lighting), Martin R. Desjardins (sound) and Ron Riall (props).
Said ATL spokesperson James Seacat, "With John Conklin's set, it's not a traditional 18th Century scenic treatment; more of a revisionist style, if you will." According to a story in the Louisville Courier-Journal, Conklin based his design on black and white illustrations of 17th and 18th Century Gardens. "There's not much real color in my conception," Conklin said. "Just a little green. Or perhaps it's more accurate to say the `idea' of green."
Conklin hopes his unusual set design will reflect the ambiguities of Marivaux's work. "His juxtaposition of fantasy and reality... He has no concern about consistency of tone. His plays veer between comedy and tragedy, likes Shakespeare's late works, which were once derided as messy and illogical. [Marivaux] on the surface can seem all superficial trivialities, but there's more under the surface." Conklin sees his current style as a designers' trend in revolt against naturalism: "The movies do it better, with their huge budgets and computerized gimmicks. The result is that the stage will discover more creative ways to reach an audience's heart." For tickets ($16-$33) and information on The Triumph Of Love,or the Actors' Theatre's musical revue Hot n'Cole playing thru June 8, please refer to the Actors Theatre Of Louisville listing on Playbill On-Line, or call (502) 584-1205.
--By David Lefkowitz