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Seattle by David-Edward Hughes

The Triumph of Love at
Seattle Repertory Theatre

Also see David's review of Driving Miss Daisy

More a triumph of set and costume design than anything else, the Stephen Wadsworth adaptation of Marivaux's The Triumph of Love is an over-long, enervating evening at the Seattle Repertory Theatre, almost rescued by a game cast and a particularly luminous central performance.

Wadsworth has laboriously directed his own adaptation of the Marivaux tale of a headstrong and clever young Princess playing the residents of a country estate for romantic fools while selflessly aiming to restore her throne to its rightful heir whom she then falls for. The adaptation overlies on getting laughs from the hoary slapstick antics of a Harlequin character and, though a fair portion of the opening night audience did indeed chortle, an equal number, myself included, found his antics tiresome. Actor Dan Donahue more felicitously played Harlequin in Wadsworth's much more successful Marivaux adaptation The Game of Love and Chance, and has gone on to specialize in similar roles hereabout. Perhaps he ought to think about tackling some other type of role for awhile, as his closing, wordless scene as the lovelorn, rejected Harlequin hints at a really fine dramatic actor, under that Harlequin mask.

Wadsworth has solicited strong and focused performances from many others in his cast. As Princess Leonide (who, dressed as both a boy and a girl, woos the Prince's philosopher guardian and his spinster sister), Jennifer Erin Roberts is captivating, and utterly sympathetic as the altruistic schemer, and proves as able to capture our attention with her silences as she is delivering some of Wadsworth's more felicitous lines. Sharon Lockwood is regal and quite moving as the spinster Leontine, and Frank Corrado etches the philosopher Hermocrate's transformation from dry man of reason to lovesick puppy dog quite engagingly. As the rightful Prince Agis, Adam Greer is handsome and charming (what more need a Prince be?), while Mary Bacon is winsome and Burton Curtis a blustery delight in comic relief servant roles.

Martin Pakledinaz's costumes are extremely attractive eye candy, and Thomas Lynch's soft-hued, filmy dream of a country estate exterior is as lovely a set as I've seen. If it were a musical (a very good, underrated one of Triumph of Love played Broadway several years back), I'd say I left humming the scenery. But I mainly left waiting for my next opportunity to see the gifted Jennifer Erin Roberts on stage in something else, and soon.

The Triumph of Love runs Tuesdays-Sundays through Feb. 15 at Seattle Repertory Theatre, Seattle Center, $10-$46. Call 206-443-2222, or visit www.seattlerep.org for more information.




- David-Edward Hughes



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