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Review: The Game of Love and Chance, at Arcola Outside

Commitment of the cast keeps audience engaged in frenetic adaptation of Pierre de Marivaux’s 1730 romantic farce

22 July, 2021 — By Lucy Popescu

Michael Lyle and Beth Lilly in Game of Love and Chance. Photo: Alex Brenner

QUENTIN Beroud and Jack Gamble’s modern adaptation of Pierre de Marivaux’s 1730 romantic farce opens the Arcola’s thrilling new outdoor space. We sit on socially distanced wooden benches under a tented roof, complete with bar.

Silvia Orgon (Ellie Nunn) is 58th in line to the British throne. Wanting to test the suitability of the husband proposed by her father (David Acton) and brother Marius (George Kemp), she swaps places with her maid, Lisette (Beth Lilly). Silvia is initially unaware that her suitor Dorante (Ammar Duffus) has done the same with his driver Harlequin (Michael Lyle).

What follows is a predictable comedy of mistaken identity, enlivened by some of the conventions associated with commedia dell’arte (traditionally performed outside). The pretend mistress of the house falls for the fake master, while the two “servants” are transfixed by one another.

The joke quickly wears thin and the charade becomes repetitive, but the energy and commitment of the cast keep us engaged. The simple pleasure, in these uncertain times, of watching a play with foreseeable and happy outcomes is not to be underestimated.

Gamble, who also directs, sets a frenetic pace. It’s genuinely joyous to see the cast frolic through the auditorium and have so much fun with us and each other. For their finale, watching them dance with abandon to Love Shack by the B-52s is sheer bliss.

Until August 7

Opening soon

• Pauline, written and performed by Camden resident Sophie Bentinck, is a journey of personal discovery about the grandmother she never knew. Sophie introduces us to a family of three women and a story spanning 100 years. Pleasance Downstairs, July 27-30. Visit:

• Following a sold-out run of live-streamed shows, Hymn by Lolita Chakrabarti, starring Adrian Lester and Danny Sapani, returns to the Almeida Theatre to play in front of a live audience. July 26-Aug 13. Visit:

• The King’s Head Theatre’s popular Queer Season returns and is headlined by Shaun Kitchener’s All That, a domestic drama of love, sex and monogamy. July 27-Aug 21. Visit:


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