Tartuffe – June 2008


By Moliere, adapted by Roger McGough

Directed by Gemma Bodinetz

Venue: Rose Theatre, Kingston

Date: Thursday 12th June 2008

The set had a curved wall at the back, with lots of semi-obscured mirror panels, two doors and six windows, shuttered to match the décor. A chandelier hung from the ceiling, and two red brocade chairs and two carved wooden chests placed symmetrically completed the layout. Once the play started, we learned there was also a hidden cupboard between the two doors, which was put to good use later on.

The translation was very good. It was in verse, as expected, and made good use of some French phrases, puns and the like. E.g. ‘You wretch. I soon will!’ He rhymed ‘interloper’ with ‘faux pas’, and got away with it! Orgon’s mother gave a tortuous version of the English proverb ‘he who laughs last, laughs longest’. Before she could give the ‘translation’, she was told ‘I know what it means’. During the second half we  had a number of others like that – hogs will take to the air, if there’s smoke there’s something burning, that sort of thing, and to end the play we got ‘all swells that end swells’ (not in text). The only joke I didn’t really get was the way everyone kept correcting the maid’s pronunciation of Tartuffe, simply because I couldn’t hear her mispronounce it in the first place. (According to the text, she calls him ‘Tartooth’.)

The language was a lot looser in the second half as well, and although the audience didn’t always get the references, such as mentioning the Priory as an alternative to the convent, we all seemed to be having a good time. Fortunately the program included the play text, which for once I may well read just for the fun of the language.

The whole cast gave us good performances, but I do just want to mention Marianne and Valere (Emily Pithon and Kevin Harvey). They were like a couple of spoilt six year olds during their main scene together; clearly in love with each other, but each one sulking because the other one hadn’t said the right thing. Beautifully done.

This was another good production here, and I hope they can soon start producing their own stuff.

© 2008 Sheila Evans at ilovetheatre.me

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