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The False Servant (Playscript)

Pierre Marivaux
Translated by Martin Crimp

Martin Crimp’s version of Pierre Marivaux’s The False Servant received its premiere at the National Theatre, London, in 2004 and was revived at the Orange Tree Theatre, London, in June 2022.

Date Published
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Are you really surprised to discover that a woman might have a mind of her own?

When Lélio thinks he can ditch and cash in on the rich woman he has promised to marry, in order to become the husband of an even wealthier ‘girl from Paris’, he enlists the help of his attractive new friend, the Chevalier.

What he doesn’t know is that the Chevalier is none other than this same ‘girl from Paris’ disguised as a man, and that her project is to publicly expose the depths of his sexual cynicism.

A self-declared ‘modern’, Marivaux is a pioneer in the exploration of human feeling, asking in this play not only what do we hide from others? – but what are we hiding from ourselves?

Martin Crimp’s version of Pierre Marivaux’s The False Servant received its premiere at the National Theatre, London, in 2004 and was revived at the Orange Tree Theatre, London, in June 2022.

‘Marivaux’s scepticism, irony and fascination with money and sex make him seem peculiarly modern.’ Guardian

‘Thrills, chills, and belly laughs – this addictively adult comedy has got the lot.’ Daily Telegraph

Critic Reviews

Martin Crimp’s gleaming translation … manages to be both carefree yet exquisitely controlled. There’s a canny ease about Crimp’s dialogue, which makes light work of Marivaux’s intricate plot, packed with deception, disguise and double-crossing characters. The wordplay never feels overplayed and only occasionally draws attention to itself with a neatly timed rhyming couplet or a very silly aside.

Critic Reviews

'Martin Crimp’s sly 2004 translation feels bang up to the minute today … When [Paul Miller’s production] does full justice to the complexity and nuance of the text, it’s blissful. … [It’s a] delight to tune into the language and hear the rarely-revived Marivaux and Crimp striking sparks off each other.'

Evening Standard
Critic Reviews

'A smart, cynical comedy of power plays, naked greed and simmering sexual desire. … Crimp skilfully walks a line between flippant, chaotic comedy on the one hand, and a deeper exploration of the fluidity of gender on the other. The script’s rich, snappy wordplay and heightened emotional register makes it a fine showcase for comic performances.'

The Stage
Critic Reviews

Crimp's language is like a missile strike: precise, accurate, and explosive. Coupled with his almost Pinteresque attention to power dynamics, his version of The False Servant is thoroughly modern and thoroughly relevant in an age where the ontology of gender is constantly questioned, probed, and explored.

Broadway World