Sure bet

The Dispute

By Marivaux
Adapted and directed by Moritz von Stuelpnagel
act 2 productions
Phil Bosakowski Theatre
Equity showcase (closed)
Review by Elias Stimac

Pierre Carlet de Marivaux wrote many plays in the 1700s, some of which are revived today, including The Triumph of Love, Changes of Heart, and The Game of Love and Chance. His satirical comedy The Dispute is a whim, a trifle, a light and lively look at love and infidelity and the ever-escalating battle of the sexes. It was delightfully delivered by act 2 productions in this recent production at the Phil Bosakowski Theatre.

While strolling through a lushly grown garden, a mischievous Prince (Chris Thorn) and his amorous companion Hermiane (Daria Polatin) make a wager about the nature of men and women. Their servants, Carise (Angela Madden) and Mesrou (Timothy Roselle), organize a short demonstration which illustrates the fickle hearts of humans. Soon the garden is overrun by a foursome of unwitting and naive young people who have been locked away since birth. Free to experience the world and discover its other inhabitants, they innocently but fervently fall in love with each new member of the opposite sex that they meet. The overanxious quartet includes Egle (Jenn Harris), Azor (Dustin Tucker), Adine (Kathryn Zamora-Benson), and Mesrin (Nathan Corddry). Only through the example of a happily faithful couple, Dina (Abby Huston) and Meslis (D. W. Wayne), are the youngsters taught the consistency and commitment that true love requires.

Marivaux interweaves his characters with a penchant for playful romance. Director Moritz von Stuelpnagel captured magical moments of lust, longing, and love at first sight with each of the pairings onstage. His adaptation of the play made for a physical, fast-paced production, and offered an excellent showcase for his talented cast and technical staff.

Stuelpnagel's accomplished company of actors performed with comedic charm and emotional abandon. Thorn and Polatin reveled in their romantic bantering, and Madden and Roselle added an appropriate amount of sly restraint. Harris, Tucker, Zamora-Benson, and Corddry all instilled their characters with wide-eyed wonder and raging hormones. Huston and Wayne embodied the perfect pair of lovers with their attractive appearances and calm demeanors.

Set designer Blair Mielnik created a pastoral playground for all the frolicking and fighting, and lighting designer Charles Foster added a sunlit glow to the proceedings. Costumes by Trevor McGinness ranged from an incredibly ornate ensemble for Hermiane to an ill-fitting outfit for Egle. Walter Trarbach put together the sound elements, and Nicole Spiers handled props.

Box Score:

Writing: 1
Directing: 2
Acting: 2
Sets: 2
Costumes: 1
Lighting/Sound: 1

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Copyright 2002 Elias Stimac