La Double Inconstance, a play written by Marivaux.
I lately saw the play La Double Inconstance at La Comédie Francaise, a famous theater in Paris, located in the first arrondissement of Paris.
It’s a masterpiece written by Pierre Carlet de Marivaux. This dramatist was born in 1688 and he died in 1763. Throughout his whole life, he wrote around forty plays. A lot of his well-known plays are famous for being about love. Marivaux is the author who tackles feelings.
In fact, the plot is not really the essential aspect, it is rather the characters’ feelings. These are at the core of the topic.
That’s why Marivaux is seen as a very modern mind because he dealt with social relations. Moreover, during his century, feelings needed to be shut down because it was not considered as crucial. He is told to be the “metaphysician of heart.”
La Double Inconstance is about Silvia who is kidnapped from her village because the prince wants to be with her. He wants her to fall in love with him and he wants to marry her. The action begins when she arrives in the castle. She is very offended because she had everything in her village with her fiancé. In the play, their love embodies a pure and true love which is not meant to die or weaken. Indeed, their love is not influenced by the Court, so they are loyal to each other.
She arrives and she is shocked by the prince’s intent. She is followed by companions who have to take care of her but she is quickly annoyed by this because she is not used to it. Besides, she wants to see her fiancé and she is very stubborn about this.
Then comes a new character, Flaminia, a prince’s friend. Her role is to push Silvia into the prince’s arms.
She built a huge strategy which is not approved of by the prince but he is so desperate that he is willing to trust her. She makes Arlequin come to the Court and she is so nice to him that he starts to believe that she wants to seduce him but she plays the friendship’s card with him. Moreover, she tends to be their protector and she touches them by telling her love story with her deceased lover.
During some scenes, they are friends and Flaminia is Silvia’s confidant and Arlequin’s friend. But, we can see that they become closer and closer as they laugh together and they look at each other tenderly.
As Flaminia continues her strategy, she is gradually but truly falling in love with him. It is very strange for her because she belongs to the court and he is just a peasant, who is making jokes about the etiquette and the court’s way of life.
Silvia is also torn because she is here because of the prince but she saw an officer a few times in her village and they meet here in the castle. She finds him handsome and attractive. But we, as spectators, know that the officer is the prince.
Flaminia tells Arlequin that she must leave. This is part of her strategy, hence Arlequin does not want her to leave and he asserts her feelings for her; he also says that he does not want Silvia to suffer.
Flaminia reassures him by telling him that she is going to talk to Silvia. Indeed, their discussion is not about her new love story. This discussion is crucial because Flaminia uses oral strategies and that way Silvia becomes aware of her feelings for this officer and she realizes that her love story with Arlequin was influenced because they were neighbors and because they were from the same village but they are not necessarily meant to be.
As the title of the play reveals, it is easy to guess that the prince tells Silvia his real identity and that two new couples are born at the end of the play: Silvia and the prince, and Flaminia and Arlequin.
To conclude, this play is about the inconstancy of feelings. It teaches that love is not necessary meant to last forever and that we can be happy with different persons throughout life. It is also about the fact that people change and so do their feelings.
About the staging, the producer is Anne Kessler. It’s amazingly directed because her idea is that the actors are rehearsing. Hence, we see how they put decorations between the scene; plus there is a sign which tells actors pieces of information such as acts and scenes.
Unfortunately, this plays is not played anymore at La Comédie Française, but you can read it and imagine how you would decorate or how your outfits would be.