Tartuffe – May 2017

Experience: 9/10

By Andrew Hilton and Dominic Power, after Moliere

Directed by Andrew Hilton

Company: Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory

Venue: Tobacco Factory

Date: Wednesday 3rd May 2017 

As expected, this had come on a lot since our first viewing. The dialogue was crisper, we had the advantage of having seen it once before, and these factors, coupled with a much more responsive audience, made for a very entertaining evening. It’s a shame so few people will get to see this, but at least we are among the happy few.

We sat on the opposite side tonight, the front row on the left, and it was good to get a chance to see the reactions we’d missed last time. We also had a much better view of Tartuffe’s expressions as he hoodwinked Ogden, and being so close to the piano meant we were more aware of the hidden husband during Emma’s pretend seduction. Dan was completely obscured from us when he hid behind the sofa, and so we had the benefit of being startled when he sprang up to confront Tartuffe, making the scene much funnier. And we could see the contents of the chest, as the back was partly open revealing a selection of games and puzzles.

There was a slight technical problem tonight as the sound and lights skipped a scene, going straight to the interval when Ogden and Tartuffe exited during Act 3. A member of the crew appeared at the entrance and asked us all to stay seated, and within a few minutes they got the program back on track. This didn’t spoil our pleasure at all, and with the audience not only laughing but occasionally gasping with incredulity at Tartuffe’s effrontery, the play built to a truly hilarious climax.

I don’t know if the first scene had been edited at all, but I felt that Pamela’s diatribe was much more clearly focused tonight. Many of her barbs hit home, and this audience particularly enjoyed the reference to Mel having got her History of Art degree from Exeter university. Emma’s comment that Tartuffe was “a knob” brought laughter and applause, and we all enjoyed the one obvious change, which was a reference to the 8th of June. Given the political setting, this adaptation has the potential to be regularly refreshed, and certainly deserves a longer life – we can but hope.

© 2017 Sheila Evans at ilovetheatre.me

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