After shaking up the Orange Tree programme with some eye-catchingly innovative productions, artistic director Paul Miller returns to more familiar, old fashioned fare with this revival of Marivaux's 'Le Jeu de L'Amour et du Hasard' (literally 'The Game of Love and Chance').
An early eighteenth century comedy of mistaken identity, it sees a wealthy young woman swap places with her maid in order to assess the true character of the man she is intended to marry. The catch is that unknown to her, he has had exactly the same idea and changed places with his manservant.
Of course, both the upstairs and downstairs couples fall head over heels in love, so by the end order is restored – heaven forbid the classes should intermingle! – and the intended toffs are able to carry on their life of splendid privilege while the servants are left with nothing. Hilarious.
But let's not let the dodgy class politics (don't get me started on the puppeteering father and brother) detract from romp that's as harmless as a kitten in a ruff. And the cast, led by Dorothea Myer-Bennett and Ashley Zhangaza as the scheming central couple Sylvia and Richard, play it all with their tongues planted firmly in cheeks. Keir Charles is on especially flamboyant form as the disguised manservant Brass, peacocking around like an eighteenth century Russell Brand.
All told it's a bit of frothy fun that will appeal to those who like their comedy served firmly on the nose. Plus it's nice to see John Fowles' affectionate translation being given a long-awaited UK premiere. But it did leave me itching for the guillotine.