A pretty, rich, young lady decides to masquerade as a lord in order to spy on her future husband. She'll take advantage of her masculine disguise to become Lélio's friend and discover what he's truly like before marrying him. Fooled by her disguise, he lets down his guard. He tells her how he once loved a countess, but he's renounced his past love for a certain Parisian lady: our lady in disguise… The "lord" stirs the countess' passion – along with that of two valets, Trivelin and Arlequin. Not content with just concealing her name – which she never reveals – by turns she'll be man and woman, aristocrat and lady's maid. In this way surrendering, without transition and by abrupt swings, to the harsh logic of classes that the old order tried so hard to keep apart.
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Marivaux should be played rather than performed (i.e., “meaningfully” drawn out). His plays are quick – hence brief, light, and agile like a brand new feeling, a perceptible hint of disenchantment. They bank on childishness in the face of adult pain and weightiness. But children are cruel: they want to learn everything about the world by acting it out, going from joy to sadness and back again, testing and pretending, within a wilderness that must be populated, once illusions have been lost, in order to live.
Benoit Jacquot, Director (excerpt from press kit)