`CHANGES' MARRED BY UNEVEN PACE.
Byline: Daryl H. Miller Daily News Theater Critic
The characters may be dressed in breeches and hoop skirts, but their predicament - being paralyzed par·a·lyze
tr.v. par·a·lyzed, par·a·lyz·ing, par·a·lyz·es
1. To affect with paralysis; cause to be paralytic.
2. To make unable to move or act: paralyzed by fear. by doubt as they face wrenching change - is sheer 1990s.
Such is the fascination of ``Changes of Heart,'' a rediscovered gem by 18th-century French playwright Pierre Carlet de Chamblain de Marivaux. Breathlessly received in Princeton, N.J., and Berkeley, a new translation of the play arrives at the Mark Taper Forum The Mark Taper Forum is a small thrust stage with 745 seats at the Los Angeles Music Center built by Welton Beckett and Associates. It has presented innovative plays since 1967. The world premiere of Angels In America was produced here. under the guidance of Stephen Wadsworth, who has sparked a Marivaux revival with his adaptations and stagings of ``The Triumph of Love,'' ``Changes of Heart'' (previously known as ``The Double Inconstancy'') and the upcoming ``The Game of Love and Chance.''
The play itself is sure to be as giddily received here as elsewhere, and Wadsworth - who also directed Handel's ``Xerxes'' for the Los Angeles Music Center The Music Center (officially named the Performing Arts Center of Los Angeles County) is one of the three largest performing arts centers in the nation. Located in downtown Los Angeles, the Music Center is home to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Ahmanson Theater, Mark Taper Opera last season - deserves our gratitude for reintroducing it. His frenetic, stylized styl·ize
tr.v. styl·ized, styl·iz·ing, styl·iz·es
1. To restrict or make conform to a particular style.
2. To represent conventionally; conventionalize. staging, however, will engender some misgivings.
Writing in the Age of Enlightenment The Enlightenment (French: Siècle des Lumières; German: Aufklärung; Italian: Illuminismo; Portuguese: , Marivaux was part of a society that believed most everything could be explained through reason and the scientific method. Yet, as Marivaux points out, nothing is easily explained where human beings - and especially the workings of their hearts - are concerned. Matters are further complicated if their society is racked by a complete re-evaluation of its social, political, religious and economic systems.
Again and again, characters in ``Changes of Heart'' are asked, ``What do you want?'' - to which they reply, ``I don't know.'' It's a telling refrain ... and one that many of us are echoing today.
The story unfolds in the grand reception room of a palace belonging to an unnamed prince - a sumptuous environment of ceiling frescoes, inlaid wood floors, and rows of tall glass doors and windows Doors and Windows is a multimedia disk by the Irish band The Cranberries. Track listing
Infatuated with an attractive commoner named Silvia, the prince has abducted abducted Distal angulation of an extremity away from the midline of the body in a transverse plane and away from a sagittal plane passing through the proximal aspect of the foot or part, or away from some other specified reference point her and imprisoned her in this gilded cage. He's determined to win her love, and for various reasons of their own, his crafty servants endeavor to help him. Silvia, however, is determined to remain true to her clownish but devoted suitor, Harlequin.
At first, it seems certain that these sweet, mostly unspoiled lovers will remain constant. But as the servants and courtiers unleash their special brand of deception, the lovers become disoriented dis·o·ri·ent
tr.v. dis·o·ri·ent·ed, dis·o·ri·ent·ing, dis·o·ri·ents
To cause (a person, for example) to experience disorientation.
Adj. 1. . Overwhelmed by rapid changes of heart, they become anxious and indecisive - and suddenly, this frothy romantic comedy reveals itself as a sharply observed depiction of people in transition.
Wadsworth carefully delineates this shift as his staging slows from antic scenes performed at mind-numbing speed to stately pageants saturated with detail.
He begins the play at too high a pitch, however, and for an uncomfortably long time, you fear you'll be trapped inside an 18th-century comedy turned Warner Bros. cartoon. You keep expecting Wile E. Coyote and the Roadrunner to come racing on stage along with the frenzied courtiers. Still more disconcerting dis·con·cert
tr.v. dis·con·cert·ed, dis·con·cert·ing, dis·con·certs
1. To upset the self-possession of; ruffle. See Synonyms at embarrass.
2. , Wadsworth has each actor working in a different performance style, from stilted declamation to free-associating, Robin Williams-like comedy. The result feels awfully disjointed.
Still, the performances are mostly wonderful, especially those of John Michael Higgins
John Michael Higgins (born February 12, 1963 as a Harlequin who's all the Marx Brothers rolled into one Adj. 1. rolled into one - made up of several components combined into a single entity
combined - made or joined or united into one , Mary Lou Rosato as a waiting woman who communicates whole subplots with her snootily drawn face and arched eyebrows, and Laurence O'Dwyer as a valet who's just too deliciously deadpan for words.
The show: ``Changes of Heart.''
Where: Mark Taper Forum, 135 N. Grand Ave., downtown.
When: 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, 2:30 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Sundays; through Sept. 1.
Running time: Two hours, 40 minutes; two intermissions.
Tickets: $28 to $35.50, available by calling (213) 628-2772.
Our rating: Three Stars.
Photo: Mary Lou Rosato, John Michael Higgins and Laurence O 'Dwyer star in ``Changes of Heart'' at the Mark Taper Forum.