PROVO — This is perhaps the only time I jumped at the chance to see a piece of French neoclassic comedy. Some months ago I heard the director would be bringing influences from Tim Burton and Cirque de Soleil and I knew my ticket needed to be for the first public preview with my seat in the first few rows.
Directing: 5 (out of 5). The show was tightly unified in style, purpose, and execution. That’s really all I could every ask for from a show so naturally I was pleased throughout the entire performance. I was completely drawn into this world. Actors and designers clearly knew the rules established for this production and were coaxed to explore and become masters of those rules. From the added tweedledee-ish character of Norine to the sultry piano stylings from Tartuffe the show seemed to be willing to take any thread of literature and pop culture and be willing to try it on, take a brief jaunt, and then adopt them into their world of comedy and farce. It truly took a quality director to be able to explore so many facets of the play and present them in a manner I could trust and feel comfortable to explore with them.
Acting: 4 (out of 5). The actors were committed to their world and roles within it. Relationships were very well explored and tested throughout the show. Granted, there were weak moments and occasionally the laughter from the audience caught more than one actor off guard and interrupted the pace, but I felt each performer was seeking those moments to make the performance immediate and fresh. I appreciated that the actors were left to project to the audience by the strength of their own voice but sadly, that strength was not always present and I was left straining to hear the occasional lyric and line. One last note, even though every two lines of the text rhymed, the actors represented the script exceptionally well. They really found the wit and craft of Moliere and it actually made me want to read more of his plays.
Visual/Technical: 5 (out of 5). Set, lights, sound, and costume all worked together beautifully to complement the action taking place on the stage. I especially appreciated the use of silhouettes through the picture frames and the original music used throughout could not have been more appropriate to the tone and humor of the production. Finally the off-kilter costumes reminded me of the costumes in Wicked in the sense that they seemed to represent our world had it been derailed a little. Beautiful, funky, and completely believable.
Script/Other: 5 (out of 5). The clever preshow announcement and extensive study guide and notes in the program contributed to one of the most enjoyable nights of theatre I’ve experienced in a while. I found myself laughing throughout and was left to forget my critical eye and just relax and enjoy the show. Though yes, there is room for improvement in the performance, this show is a ticket I’m happy to buy. It was the complete package.
Overall: 4.75 (out of 5). This is a good show. If you don’t consider yourself a theatre afficionado and are worried about spending money on Moliere, this is a show you’ll be happy you saw. It’s very accessible and an enjoyable evening.
“Tartuffe” plays January 20 through February 6 (7:30 PM), with a Saturday matinee (Jan 30), in the Pardoe Drama Theatre in the Harris Fine Arts Center, located on the campus of Brigham Young University in Provo, UT. Tickets range between $8 (matinee) to $15 (adult evening admission). There is some sexual innuendo, but it’s tame even by today’s standards.