It was not a very entertaining play, as it was really just a plot for Olaf to legally marry Violet, and become eligible for a claim to the Baudelaire fortune. Snicket himself states that the play is insipid and does not even bother telling the details of it.
Despite that the fortune was Olaf's main incentive for the play, it is possible that Olaf actually preferred a marriage with Violet. He says, "Now, if all of you will excuse me, my bride and I need to go home for our wedding night." Before this, Olaf says to Violet, "Build the set? Heavens, no. A pretty girl like you shouldn't be working backstage." This implies Olaf sees Violet as being attractive. It's possible that Olaf enjoyed the idea of being Violet's husband and he seriously planned on living with his "wife" for the rest of his life. An event in The Slippery Slope proves this: when the troupe votes on who to keep alive, Count Olaf says, "...Violet. She's the prettiest."
In an attempt to guarantee the plot's success and force Klaus and Violet to participate, Olaf blackmailed Violet and Klaus by hanging Sunny in a birdcage from his tower, promising her death if the two did not comply. He kept a walkie-talkie with him on stage, and one of his associates at the tower would drop Sunny if Violet and Klaus did not comply.
When Olaf thought he succeeded, he blatantly told the audience his intentions to gloat, although his plan is foiled by Violet and/or Klaus (depending on adaptation). Before Olaf can be arrested, one of his associates turns the lights in the theatre off. Olaf whispers to Violet in the darkness that once he obtains her fortune he will kill her and her siblings, sending a shiver up her spine. Olaf and his associates then flee.
In the book and TV series, it was held at a theater nearby Count Olaf's house. In the film, it was held in Olaf's backyard.
In the book and TV series, Violet was able to foil Olaf's scheme by signing the marriage document with her left hand despite being right-handed, resulting in the document not being legally binding. In the TV series, Klaus also has to give a long-winded explanation about philosophy about how the marriage is void, and how someone should have the freedom to choose their own destiny.
In the film, however, when Violet attempts to sign using her left hand, Count Olaf asks Violet to use her right hand, which she does as slowly as possible. Klaus uses a magnifying glass to burn the marriage certificate at a distance. It is unknown why this change occurred, although it may have been done to make things more suspenseful for those who already read the book.
The Marvelous Marriage (Netflix)
In the Netflix series, The Marvelous Marriage centers on Count Olaf portraying various characters throughout history, such as a Pharaoh and a Duke, while declaring how handsome he is. He is flanked in both scenes by the white-faced women, who declare: "He's so handsome!" - The wedding ceremony is presided over by a nervous Justice Strauss, and concludes with the white-faced women saying, "Mazel Tov!" and throwing flowers.
The Marvelous Marriage (Film)
In the movie, the play was originally titled The Marvelous Carriage, and the plot involved the real deaths of the Baudelaire children by being fatally struck by a carriage in an "accident". After finding out from Mr. Poe that the children's death would not deem him eligible for a claim to the Baudelaire Fortune, he renamed and completely rewrote the play. The plot of the new play, The Marvelous Marriage, told the story of two Counts fighting for a girl they both loved. Promotional materials for the original play featured a painted red M covering the C of "Carriage" in the original title.
The play was deemed moving by a judgemental critic and the impatient detective.
The Marvelous Marriage begins with the white-faced women signing that, "Nothing in the world will keep the Count from his beloved bride!". They then deplore a mannequin, whom they describe as a "Quiet, bald-headed suitor" for stealing "the bride's affections". Count Olaf makes his appearance in what one of the white-faced women describe as his "auto-giro", which is a small plane that flies above the audience. Count Olaf is lowered onto the stage and warns the audience that "this next scene could get a little graphic." - He then dismembers the mannequin and kicks its head into the audience.
The marriage between Count Olaf and Violet was prevented by Klaus, who slipped away and used the eye magnifying glass in Olaf's tower to focus light onto the marriage certificate, causing it to catch fire.
- Count Olaf - Groom
- Violet Baudelaire - Bride
- Justice Strauss - Judge
- Klaus Baudelaire - Guest (a sailor in the book/TV series or a camel in the film)
- Count Olaf's associates - Various roles
- The marriage caused The Bad Beginning to be a controversial book, as a man attempts to marry a minor who is his adoptive daughter and has overtones of incest. Olaf claims to be Violet's distant relative, although it is ambiguous if this claim was merely a fabricated lie so he could adopt the children as their "closest living relative". At least one school district in Decatur, Georgia attempted to ban it and restrict children access to it. Parents were disgusted, although this is the point: to set Olaf up as a disgusting character.