In the spacious amphitheater at the College of St. Elizabeth, a summer evening under the stars with the giddy delights to be found in “The Triumph of Love” is a most comforting theatrical escape. In a sparkling new translation by Bonnie J. Monte, Marivaux’s farce has a rippling, infectious effect on the picnicking audience.
Monte’s accessible adaptation accents the giggly abundance of malapropisms that mark the cunning wordplay. Director Craig A. Miller adds to the fun by giving the actors delightful bits of business and pacing the comic antics with a keen hand. “Triumph” usually is performed in three acts, but the absence of an intermission provides a comfortable flow.
Mocking the snobbery of a 16th-century aristocratic society and the folly of courtship, an accidental princess, disguised as a man (Mandy Olsen), ensnares the affections of a pompous philosopher (Brian Dowd) and his stoical virginal sister (Pamela Vogel) to gain the affection of a rather skittish young heir to the throne (Geoff Wilson).
The crafty princess bribes a giddy valet (Greg Jackson) and a raunchy gardener (Brian Cogman) to aid her in her amorous plight. All the players are expansively expressive with the fanciful language and the broadly comic gymnastics.
Olsen is an exceedingly lovely schemer in the game of love. The matronly maiden and loveless guardian played by Vogel boasts the kind of flighty, funny breathlessness that was the specialty of the late Mildred Natwick.
The gardener is a boorish and vulgar nuisance, acted with amusing vigor by Cogman, while Jackson’s comically conniving manservant primps and poses with flourish and flair. Dowd’s reluctant suitor has a pompously foolish air.
An amusing gimmick finds the actors freezing in midsentence to gaze with wonder and awe at the frequent roar of overhead aircraft.
The luscious set design by Jesse Dreikosen is a garden of delight with its potted plants, leafy hedges, stately statuary and fountains. Ann Ritchings’ elegant period costumes beautifully complement this ravishing garden party.