The Game of Love and Chance at Arcola Theatre
A hugely fun romp of deception, mistaken identities and falling in love hits the brand new Arcola Outside in The Game of Love and Chance. The 18th century French play, written by Pierre de Marivaux, feels neither 18th century nor French in this modern adaptation from Quentin Beroud and Jack Gamble.
58th in line to the throne, Sylvia is being set up with Dorante, a billionaire who is visiting her. Having never met (and having deftly swerved the issue of social media), neither knows what the other looks like. So to better get the measure of the man, Sylvia trades places with her maid, Lisette, pretending to be the help so that she may study Dorante and find out his true nature. Unbeknownst to her, Dorante has had the exact same idea.
What follows is an almost-Shakespearean comedy of errors, as the bosses and servants weave themselves into a complete mess of deceit. It is quite fantastically entertaining with plenty of jokes and general silliness – no surprise as Marivaux’s original script featured characters from the Commedia dell’Arte (the inspiration behind pantomimes) and this modern version stays true to that, the production even employing a Commedia dell’Arte consultant to help them get it right.
Of course that puts a lot on the actors to have perfect comic timing, be superbly dramatic and occasionally improvise with the audience. Each performer absolutely masters it. It’s lovely to see Ellie Nunn (who plays Sylvia) hasn’t lost an ounce of talent since her earlier roles and is still a treat to watch. The rest of the cast all have great moments each too. Beth Lilly (as Lisette) dazzles every time she’s on stage while George Kemp (playing Sylvia’s brother Marius) gets the most laughs in a single scene. As the character is pretending to be in love with the maid, Kemp has to turn an already dramatic performance into just the most incredibly funny piece of overacting.
A combination of witty script and fantastic performances makes The Game of Love and Chance a show well worth watching this summer, and the Arcola’s new outdoor setup (complete with shelter, lighting, proper seating and a bar) makes for a charming and surprisingly well-equipped host.
Photos: Alex Brenner
The Game of Love and Chance is at Arcola Theatre from 14th July until 7th August 2021. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.