… “an extravagant trifle” …

The Illusion is well produced, stunningly acted, and trivial.  It’s interesting, though, for the attention it brings to formal aspects in theater history.  When Corneille wrote L’Illusion Comique in 1635, it was highly experimental for the time — daring variations on the theme of how to write a play by a young but experienced playwright (7 plays written by the age of 29).  As one would surely learn if one took the course in college, in L’Illusion Comique Corneille breaks with the three classic unities of action, time and place, mixes various traditions – tragic-comedy, pastoral, Commedia del’arte, etc. — and incorporates not one (as in Hamlet) but multiple plays within a play, the characters’ names changing in concert.  This play about the evanescence of all things is as confusing as it’s meant to be.  It’s very much a precocious — by close to 400 years — exercise in deconstruction

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