REVIEW: The Game of Love and Chance

Odyssey Theatre’s 26h season is upon them and they recently opened their their mask theatre production of Marivaux’s The Game of Love and Chance in beautiful Strathcona park on the Rideau River. Should you see it?

In the game of love, it’s always house rules and odds are always in favour of the house – no matter how hard you try to fix the game.

Odyssey Theatre presents The Game of Love and Chance out in Strathcona Park.

The cast of The Game of Love and Chance.

In Marivaux’s The Game of Love and Chance, Silvia is set up on a blind wedding by her father and decides that the only way to learn who the prospective hubby really is – behind the masks we put up – is to observe him discreetly through the guise of her maid Lisette. Pops agrees to let Silvia and Lisette swap identities for the initial meeting, later learning, and keeping to himself, that the hubby to be, Dorante, has come up with a similar ruse, swapping IDs with his man-servant Arlequino. Got all that?

From there, in the hands of director Andy Massingham, who also adapted the material for this production, hilarity ensues in great quantities.

Zach Counsil as Mario in Odyssey's The Game of Love and Chance

Zach Counsil as Mario in The Game of Love and Chance

Odyssey’s production of The Game of Love and Chance is brought forward to the “Belle Époque” of the 1890s and presented as mask theatre. Four of the six main cast members wear wonderful masks that within seconds just become such a part of them, it’s almost jarring and unnatural to see the actors without the masks on after the curtain call.

Complimenting the mask work, the costumes here are gorgeous and create a nice sense of the class division present in the era and material. The set is both simple in design and complex in practice, in that it takes place in the outdoors of Strathcona park and the staging takes full advantage of the natural setting near the stage, like a couple of big old trees, the very scaffolding hold the lights, and including one long gag concerning the entrance of “Dorante” that only a small part of the audience will even pick up the full scope of.

The entire cast are wonderful and perfectly larger than life. Zach Counsil as Silvia’s mischievous, possibly psychotic, and possibly gay brother Mario is a particular scene stealer who’s hard not to watch and enjoy on stage as is Jody Stevens who plays Lisette/”Silvia” and who is delightfully crude and cheeky in the role.

Jody Stevens and Stephanie Izsak as Lizette and Silvia (or vice versa).

Jody Stevens and Stephanie Izsak as Lisette and Silvia (or vice versa).

#loveNchance, as it’s known on Twitter, is a glass full of joy and immense fun, sprinkled liberally with the sexy time, served on a platter of wonderful, accessible, and timeless source material, making it almost too much comedy for one evening.

But that’s just what I thought. How did you enjoy The Game of Love and Chance? What was your favourite part? Of if you haven’t seen it yet, are you planning on it? Tell me in the comments below. I’d like to know. 

Remember that this is outdoor theatre and come prepared. Odyssey’s stage (with bleacher seating and limited space for lawn chairs) is in a nice shaded area and shows take place as the sun sets so you can get away without sunscreen but seat cushions or blankets never hurt. Bring a jacket, and if you’re particularly sensitive to the insects, bug spray may be useful. 

The Game of Love and Chance runs until Aug 26th, 2012. Check out our preview (including photo and video) or the Odyssey theatre website for all the info you could want. 


Allan Mackey

About Allan Mackey

Allan Mackey is editor-in-chief of Production Ottawa, which, really, is too fancy a title. He also acts as show producer for Should You See It, making sure you get your answer in just about two minutes every time. He writes stuff and occasionally turns that stuff into movies. Keep being awesome!

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