Les Caprices de Marianne

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Alfred de Musset
artistic director Nicolas Lormeau

Les Caprices de Marianne

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“Musset writes in his autobiographical novel La Confession d’un enfant du siècle: ‘To love, for women, is to play at lying, as children play hide and seek.’

So love is only a game? Who is playing here? Coelio playing with his life? Marianne playing with love? Octavian playing with fire? It is carnival time. The masks go on. The masks come off.

The play could be summed up as follows: in trying to persuade Marianne to accept Coelio’s love, Octavian falls madly in love with her. In trying to persuade Octavian that she is not looking for love, Marianne falls madly in love with him. They play, they circle each other, they avoid each other and find each other again... Marianne almost forgets her husband, and Coelio presses her to respond. Octave almost forgets his friend and his binding oath. Coelio’s death signals the end of the game. All have lost. Coelio loses his life. Marianne loses her love. Octavian loses hope.

OCTAVE. [...] Farewell to Naples and its women, the torchlit masquerades, the long suppers in the shade of the forests! Farewell to love and friendship! I have no place on this earth.
MARIANNE. But you do in my heart, Octavian. Why do you say: Farewell to love?
OCTAVE. I do not love you, Marianne; it was Coelio who loved you.

The great virtue of the Théâtre à la table format is that it lets the audience come as close as possible to an author’s writing, to his language. In Musset’s case, it is a strange, shifting and indecisive language of bygone times and today. Impulses are defeated by unreasonable fears. Love is destroyed by invented doubts. Nature is invaded by the smoke of cabarets. This language, which is both very simple and very sophisticated, is perhaps in itself the embodiment of the Romantic movement of the nineteenth century."

Nicolas Lormeau

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