It is not, however, theory that makes this production so affecting. Thomas Derrah, as the Warhol-like club impresario Trivelin, is a sinister lesson in entropy. But the four actors playing Euphrosine, Cléanthis, and their male counterparts, lipsticked nobleman Iphicrate and his servant-clown Arlequin, so graphically convey the emotions of their violated characters, whether rooted in vengeance, repulsion, or abjection, that this formal 18th-century exercise can seem as piercing and revelatory as Woyzeck. John Campion’s cringing Iphicrate, forced into drag, and MacDonald’s mortified Euphrosine, torching the blues or begging to be left to her despair, are heartbreaking. So is razory Remo Airaldi’s return, after he’s enjoyed some autocratic and sexual games, to sniveling love for his long-time abuser. As Cléanthis, newcomer Fiona Gallagher unleashes a throaty gush of condemnation of her vain mistress that hilariously refuses to be dammed. But once it’s spent, she collapses into a purgative anguish that makes Marivaux’s point: there is contempt on both sides of the class divide, but the servants’ can be mastered.
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