The concluding production of STC’s 2014-2015 season — on NOW at Harman Hall — is one that the company has never before attempted to stage, though it is one of Moliere’s best known plays. According to STC Artistic Director Michael Kahn: “Great plays demand great talent and an even greater vision for their contemporary relevance.” So they finally brought in those that could give a modern feel to this old-world masterpiece.
This portrait of a “comic” monster, Tartuffe, is brought to life by Helen Hayes award winner Steven Epp (adapted by David Ball, directed by Dominique Serrand) and it’s an altogether too realistically possible portrayal of religious fervor and hypocrisy.
Orgon has fallen under the pious fraud Tartuffe’s spell. He won’t listen to his wife or children; he just obeys every word and command of Tartuffe’s… believing his is a divine authority. Tartuffe, meanwhile, is taking full advantage; he’s stealing secrets, trying to seduce Orgon’s wife, and hoping, eventually, to take all that is his. The family conspires to keep this from happening. But can they reveal Tartuffe’s true nature before it is too late?!
Epp’s Tartuffe is sinister and oversexualized alongside Sofia Jean Gomez‘s calculating Elmira, Suzanne Warmanen’s vivacious Dorine, and Lenne Klingaman’s high-spirited Mariane. But it is Gregory Linington’s Cleante that, to this viewer, gives the most realistic and stirring lines of the play.
“And just as there is nothing I more revere
Than a soul whose faith is steadfast and sincere,
Nothing that I more cherish and admire
Than honest zeal and true religious fire,
So there is nothing that I find more base
Than specious piety’s dishonest face – ” (1.5.11)
Tartufffe plays ta STC’s Harman Hall through July 5, 2015.
*Images credit Scott Suchman for Shakespeare Theatre Company