The Triumph of Love

the triumph of love,marivauxTHE TRIUMPH OF LOVE


CSC Theatre, NYC

March 29 – May 8, 1994

WRITTEN BY: Marivaux

DIRECTED BY: Michael Mayer


Margaret Welsh – Leonide
Camryn Manheim – Corine
Daniel Jenkins – Harlequin
Garret Dillahunt – Agis
Umit Celebi – Dimas
Randy Danson – Leontine
Thom Christopher – Hermocrate
Christine Gummere – Cellist


“The Triumph of Love” is also a wonderfully convoluted farce: in order to court Agis, the intensely naive young prince she’s fallen in love with from afar, the equally young, headstrong Phocion, a princess, disguises herself as a man to be accepted in the household where Agis has been raised since boyhood. Phocion has little difficulty with Agis. He immediately falls for her as a boy, and is even more delighted when he learns she’s a girl. Yet to stay in the house, Phocion also winds up having to be the love object of Hermocrate, Agis’s guardian, a stuffy, pompous philosopher who sees through her male disguise, and Hermocrate’s unmarried sister, Leontine, who thinks that Phocion is a man from heaven. (…)

Within the limited space of the company’s theater, Michael Mayer has directed a first-rate production from James Magruder’s unhackneyed translation. Mr. Magruder retains the flavor of Marivaux’s flowery locutions, which establish a world in timeless limbo, but his translation also accommodates the kind of anachronisms that give the charade a contemporary edge. Some of these are more inspired than others.

Margaret Welsh is a determined, pretty, very sweet Phocion, a woman who will make a great queen when, eventually (you feel sure), Agis wanders off, self-absorbed, into a midlife crisis. In this role, Garret Dillahunt gives one of the funniest, most recklessly physical slapstick performances I’ve seen since Kevin Kline absconded with “On the 20th Century.” Also more than proficient are Thom Christopher as Hermocrate and Randy Danson as the vulnerable Leontine. Good support is provided by Daniel Jenkins as the ebullient, conniving Harlequin, Umit Celebi as a dimwitted gardener and Camryn Manheim, who appears as Phocion’s properly skeptical maid. [NY Times]

Like nearly all the dramatic works by this 18th-century Frenchman, “Triumph” is concerned with love, how it comes about, how it can be helped along and what effect it has on usually rational people. In the course of the play, Phocion, an enterprising young lad, sees to it that three of the major characters fall head over heels for him. The catch is, Phocion is really Leonide, a princess in disguise.

Hermocrate (Thom Christopher), a chilly philosopher, soon discovers the sensual woman under the male togs and warms to her. Leontine (Randy Danson), Hermocrate’s foolish middle-aged sister, believes she’s dealing with an impetuous man, while Agis (Garret Dillahunt), the handsome if slow-witted young prince who is the real object of Phocion’s desires, just thinks he has acquired a new best friend. The actress playing Phocion/ Leonide has to give them all good reason for their delusions and even lose her own bearings now and again. [NY Times]