Marivaux at the McCarter has become a most agreeable staple. Director Stephen Wadsworth, who adapted the 18th century playwright’s “The Triumph of Love” on the Princeton stage in 1992 and followed it two years later with “Changes of Heart,” continues with “The Game of Love and Chance.” Staged with grand style, the comedy is acted with ebullience by a well-schooled ensemble.
The play concerns the plight of an aristocratic couple whose parents have arranged their marriage, though the betrothed have never met. In order to make certain the right choice has been made and to further observe the character of her husband-to-be, Silvia (Francesa Faridany) exchanges places with her maid, Lisette (Margaret Welsh). By the same token, to witness the behavior and manner of his bride-to-be, the nobleman Dorante (Neil Maffin) assumes the disguise of his valet, Harlequin (John Michael Higgins), an impetuous fool and boorish nuisance. Despite the class distinctions observed at the time, the ardent Dorante confesses to his masquerade and declares a pledge of marriage to the woman he believes to be a servant.
Unrequited love, mistaken identities and the uncontrollable power of romance are the elements on the Marivaux palette, and Wadsworth has filled the canvas with flourish. Thomas Lynch has designed an ideal landscape, with a massive clump of reaching cypress trees and the facade of a stately stone manor house centered by a rolling green lawn and a towering angled oak.
The cast gives fine performances, with Faridany as the exceedingly lovely schemer, Maffin as the lovesick nobleman, and Welsh as the perky maid. Higgins, as Harlequin, serves his antics with delightful comic invention. Martin Pakledinaz’s luscious costumes complete the picture.