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The Triumph of Love
cause love triumphs anytime, anywhere, and because Marivaux's 18th century French classic plays charmingly in any setting, this production was bound to succeed on many levels. But move the period to the 1920s, add the flavor of the historic, Frank Lloyd Wright?designed Hollyhock House and enact the production in its garden with the sun just setting behind the house, and the mix is enchanting. In Marivaux's confection, translated here by Rod McLucas, Princess Leonidis wanders into enemy territory--the home of a philosopher, his sister, and their servants--to love and save the philosopher's pupil, Agis, hoping to restore this rightful heir to his throne. Disguised as a man and accompanied by her secretary, the princess seems to be winning everyone's heart but Agis'. Director Scott Rabinowitz uses the gardens of Hollyhock House ideally: He places the actors deep "upstage" at the far end of a grassy courtyard, or at our feet around a (now drained) lily pond. Rabinowitz also demands and gets the best from his fine actors: The cast handles the heightened tone and the non-theatre acoustics with craft and grace, and while occasionally speeches are rushed, we notice only because we want to linger with the characters in their situations and setting. As the princess, Jacy Gross is believably royal, the outdoor lighting no enemy to her translucent skin, her bearing gracious and eternally energetic. Ameenah Kaplan plays her secretary as a capable thinker as well as loyal friend. David Rozowsky is the philosopher, stoop-shouldered and myopic, dressed in a ragged cardigan and wayward shirttails. Shelly Sproles takes charge as his officious sister. As his pupil, Ryan Janis grows on us, wising up before our eyes. Casey Smith imbues the butler with commedia tics and a larger-than-life Italian accent much resembling Roberto Benigni's; a touch more truthfulness would launch this performance into the stellar sphere. Troy Blendell is the bumbling French gardener, and his potent French accent makes his scenes with Smith a mix of comical sounds and sights. Costume designer Elif Inanc garbs the cross-dressing gals in well-fitted suits: brown chalk striped for the princess, and plus fours for her secretary. The hair is too modern but we soon forget about it. The original composition by Casey Cohen is timeless and yet of classic France and '20s America. All in all it's a sweet afternoon in the hazy L.A. su
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