Marivaux’s Successful Strategies a Success

Colgate Theater Program’s performance of Successful Strategies, Wertenbaker’s translation of Marivaux’s French play L’Heureux Stratagème, conveyed a highly amusing presentation, prov­ing its capacity to effectively conjure humor. Its satirical portrayal of females’ fickle perception of love and males’ compulsive desire to pursue women does not veer far from modern society, not excluding Colgate’s very own community.

Many inner mechanisms were vital in creat­ing the play as a whole. The music was on cue with the impending actions and imperceptibly enhanced the underscoring emotion of the given scene. It was appropriately fitting to the frustra­tion, optimism and other various passions that ran rampant. The periodic sound effects ad­ditionally enhanced their comedic objectives. However the occasional lowering of the stage lights, followed by the actors’ transitory bewil­derment transpired as rather futile and distract­ing incidents. The purpose of integrating such moments remains perplexing.

Although minimal stagecraft was presented, this simplicity emerged favorably. Because of the vibrant lighting, costumes and gestures, the unadorned scenery was tasteful, compelling the audience to remain focused on the elaborate communication. The cast made good use of stage dynamics, as sections of audience bound­ed the platform on every side, enriching the performance. Sitting adjacent to the performers as they performed also allowed students to ex­perience a unique sense of involvement.

The dialogue was enunciated and reinforced with body language that managed to circum­vent overly theatrical movements. Although there were sporadically embellished manner­isms, this performance merits acclaim for their strategy, as it did sustain the captivation of the assorted audience. The clever wordplay func­tioned as the most detectable method of comic relief that this script offered, and the actors cer­tainly didn’t fail to evoke such humor. Minor gestures and facial expressions were enormously imperative to the actors’ establishment of a per­suasive enactment. Their employment of these techniques, combined with the cunning script, created a successful performance.

The cast of Successful Strategies interacted commendably. They relentlessly depicted every slight yet essential attribute of their characters. The most prominent feature of this performance was its substantial aptitude for wit; each character embodied a portion of absurdity through their transparent behaviors. The actors’ mutual secu­rity in their roles manifested as the foundation of the show’s extensive achievement. Dorante (first-year Dan Kwartler) induced a fairly understated humor, inciting laughter from his sheer despera­tion and overly stern self-regard. Le Chevalier (first-year Dylan Crouse) expressed a profound desperation as well, producing an outlandish ig­norance and a lack of perceptibility. La Marquise (first-year Elyse McGrath) and La Comtesse (se­nior Lisa Lee) benefited from exaggerated ‘femi­nine’ behavior, so far as to solely classify men as devices of leverage. La Comtesse was rendered so naïvely transparent that her convincing and melodramatic outbursts were especially memora­ble. The drama between the characters was only furthered by the crafty Frontin (first-year Josh Paul); expressive, though subtle and calculating at the same time, Frontin drives much of the play’s dynamic, as he drives the characters to and from one another. The servants Lisette (sopho­more Juliana Reider) and Arlequin (sophomore Evan Tomlinson Weintraub) were the main forms of comic relief, acting foolishly while pre­serving a sense of endearment. Their appearances were keenly anticipated by the audience.

Successful Strategies is a remarkably clever comedy that seems resistant to growing out­dated. Viewing college students perform a play written in a wholly remote setting amplified the audience’s experience, as such parallels are pro­gressively evident. Disregarding the decorative attire and specifics of historical French society, the overarching motif of acquiring love through implementing tactics of jealous antagonism en­dures throughout time. Thus, the modern audi­ence finds that the feat of such humor persists as these absurdities are recurrently discernible in our own communities. Like the characters in Successful Strategies, we unfortunately cannot claim to be persistently immune to exploiting ostentatious longings, simple motives and utterly preposterous logic, so we must acknowledge the irrevocability of this inadequacy and laugh.

Contact Julia Berman at [email protected].