by Moliere (in a new translation by Roger McGough)
24 May - 2 June 2012
Tartuffe, a prime character invented by Moliere in the 17th century, has become another name for hypocrite. In the play, Tartuffe, a wily impostor, is invited into his home by a wealthy merchant, Orgon, who believes Tartuffe to be a paragon of virtue to whom the Orgon family must defer. He even goes so far as preparing to leave Tartuffe his fortune and to offer him his daughter's hand in marriage. Other less gullible family members come close to exposing him but the slippery Tartuffe always manages to maintain his righteous image. In the end, it is Mme Orgon who exposes Tartuffe for the fraud he is – and exposes her husband for the fool he is. All done with a deliciously light touch and with a happy ending to complete the evening.
|Mme Pernelle||Olivia Beckwith|
Combine an original tale from Moliere, the clever wit and amusement of poet Roger McGough's rhyming couplets, the skill of director Suzi Whittle and a first rate cast and you have an evening nothing short of continuous hilarity.
First produced in 1664, the scandalous theme of the play caused major waves and Phil Young's way over the top Tartuffe explained why, as he jumped from piety with a prayer book to barely-clothed lecher.
The plot revolves around Tartuffe's ability to con Nigel Kemp's sensible family man Orgon into breaking his daughter's engagement to Valere and offer her hand to what he believes to be a righteous man, down on his luck. Orgon goes so far as to sign over all his property to Tartuffe and the denouement revealing the villain's real nature is high comedy.
Denise Scales adds constant laughs as the know-all and clever servant Dorine while astuteness comes from Graham Jones as the wise Cleante. The illicit object of Tartuffe's affections is, in fact, Orgon's wife Elmire, coquettishly played by Mary-Rose Goodliffe on top form, playing the seducer to bring about Tartuffe's downfall.
As the young people in the plot, Lucy Baker as daughter Mariane tries hard to hold on to her fiancé Valere, an earnest David McGuckin, whilst Kieran McGough as son Damis suffers banishment for telling his father how wicked Tartuffe really is. Grandmother Mme Pernelle is also taken in by Tartuffe with grand acting from Olivia Beckwith. Peter Whittle as Loyal and Tony Neale as the red-coated Officer help conclude the tale.
Marjorie McLachlan's period costumes bring elegance to the play, set in the round, and the programme cover, too, is cleverly designed. An amateur production? I don't think so!