In this intriguing tale, a British playwright takes a classical French farce and makes it into a modern study of the search for love, versus the lust for money. A stark set of angling steps, a magnificent cast at full throttle, and witty dialogue, make this a must-see. Is it wise to unmask a scoundrel by pretending to be what you’re not? This is a question author Pierre de Marivaux asked back in 1724 and, under Martin Crimp’s modern twist, resounds today.
There are many false servants in the play, because nearly everyone plays a deceitful role. Chastity Dotson is an heiress who impersonates a man-servant to gain the confidence and friendship of her unknown betrothed. Christian Leffler is the lothario who plays a dangerous game thinking his opponents are merely foolish women. Barry Del Sherman is a beggarly aristocrat who knows that without money good manners amount to zilch.
Dorie Barton is the Countess, a rich lady too easily duped by sweet words and intimate sexual promises. Mathew Bazulka is the boyish servant willing to betray his master for money and sexual favors. Cody Chappel, is a balladeer, singing about love but with a twist of irony since when the truth comes out all dreams are dashed.
Directed by Bart DeLorenzo with style and mischievous flair. Elegant set by Frederica Nascimento, and effective sound by John Ballinger - who composed the music to lyrics by Crimp and Chappel. Opulent costumes by Leah Piehl.
An Odyssey Theatre Ensemble and The Evidence Room co-production. At The Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., through Sept 6. Tickets: (310) 477-2055 or www.odysseytheatre.com.
Photos by Diego Barajas & Sharrow Photography.