Most people know that Moliere was a famous playwright, but most people, at least in the Triangle area, probably haven’t had a lot of exposure to his work, at least not recently or locally. That is what makes PLAYMAKERS Repertory Company’s production of Moliere’s Tartuffe, adapted by David Ball and directed by Saheem Ali, feel so very fresh and new, despite the fact that it is anything but. In fact, even those not familiar with Tartuffe will recognize many of its themes and tropes from popular culture. Plays like this one are part of the human psyche, and never has that fact been made more clear than in this funny, circus-like extravaganza of a play.
Ali has held nothing back when it comes to making this production as over-the-top as possible. Incredible and outrageous costumes by Anne Kennedy help to fuel the surreal nature of the production, which features a diverse cast and updated, raunchy dialogue.
Joey Collins is wonderfully smarmy in the title role. His overly-flattering, ingratiating moments shared onstage with the rich Orgon (Ray Dooley) are some of the best that the show has to offer. These two actors, however, aren’t the only ones with “chops.” April Mae Davis is sweetly charming as Mariane while Shanelle Nicole Leonard garners laughs all the way through with her bawdy portrayal of Dorine.
And, not only is the acting stellar, but every moment onstage has been precisely and artfully choreographed. A great example of the clever use of movement comes in the hilarious scene in which Orgon hides under a table, only to slither out comically at just the precise moment to create calamity onstage- and to come face to face with Collins’ Tartuffe.
Incredible (and hilarious) music choices also serve to amp up the fun and craziness that are the hallmarks of this production. And, despite all the hilarity, one is left questioning the idea of religion as a self-serving practice, making this show an ideal counterpart to The Christians, with which it is running in perfect tandem.
PlayMakers Repertory Company presents Molière’s TARTUFFE at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 16; 2 p.m. Feb. 17; 7:30 p.m. Feb. 20, 21, and 24; 2 p.m. Feb. 25, 7:30 p.m. March 1, 2, 6, 7, and 10; and 2 p.m. March 11 in the Paul Green Theatre in the Joan H. Gillings Center for Dramatic Art, 150 Country Club Rd., Chapel Hill, NC 27514, on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus.
TICKETS: $15-$48 ($10 UNC students and $12 other college students), with discounts for UNC faculty and staff and U.S. military personnel.
BOX OFFICE: 919-962-PLAY, firstname.lastname@example.org, or https://tickets.playmakersrep.org/.
GROUP RATES (15+ tickets): 919-962-PLAY (7529), email@example.com, or http://www.playmakersrep.org/box-office/groups-and-special-events/.
SHOWS: http://www.playmakersrep.org/show/tartuffe/ and https://www.facebook.com/events/1946314188732031/.
2017-18 SEASON: https://playmakersrep.org/season/2017-2018-season/
PRESENTER: http://www.playmakersrep.org/, https://www.facebook.com/playmakersrep, https://twitter.com/playmakersrep, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PlayMakers_Repertory_Company, and http://www.youtube.com/user/PlayMakersRep.
PRC BLOG (Page to Stage): http://playmakersrep.blogspot.com/.
WARNING: PlayMakers Rep recommends Tartuffe for audiences aged 14 and older.
NOTE 1: All shows are wheelchair accessible, and assistive-listening devices will be available at all performances.
NOTE 2: There will be an All-Access Performance, with sign-language interpretation and audio description by Arts Access, Inc. of Raleigh, at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 20th.
NOTE 3: There will be two special student matinee performances at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 21st, and at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, March 1st. Click here for details.
NOTE 4: There will be FREE post-show discussions, with members of the cast and creative team, following the show’s 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 21st, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 25th, performances.
NOTE 5: The North Carolina Psychoanalytic Society will sponsor a FREE post-show Mindplay psychoanalytic discussion on “The Charm of a Snake,” led by Theresa A. Yuschok, MD, after the show’s 2 p.m. Sunday, March 11th, performances.
Tartuffe; or The Imposter, or The Hypocrite or Tartuffe; ou, l’imposteur (1664 French comedy): https://www.britannica.com/topic/Tartuffe (Encyclopædia Britannica) and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tartuffe (Wikipedia).
The Script: http://books.google.com/ (Google Books).
Study Guide: https://www.bard.org/study-guides/tartuffe-study-guide (Utah Shakespeare Festival).
Molière (French dramatist and actor, nee Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, 1622-73): https://www.britannica.com/biography/Moliere-French-dramatist (Encyclopædia Britannica), http://www.playmakersrep.org/artists/moliere/ (PlayMakers Rep bio), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moli%C3%A8re (Wikipedia).
David Ball (Durham, NC adapter): http://www.playmakersrep.org/artists/david-ball/ (PlayMakers Rep bio) and https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=631919498 (Facebook page).
Saheem Ali (New York City director): https://www.saheemali.com/ (official website), http://www.playmakersrep.org/artists/saheem-ali/ (PlayMakers Rep bio), http://www.lortel.org/Archives/CreditableEntity/48719 (Internet Off-Broadway Database), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/saheem-ali-489141 (Internet Broadway Database), and https://www.facebook.com/saheemscene (Facebook page).
Susie Potter is a Raleigh, NC-based freelance writer and editor. She is a 2009 graduate of Raleigh’s Meredith College, where she majored in English. She holds graduate degrees in teaching and American literature from North Carolina State University in Raleigh. In addition to her work for Triangle Arts and Entertainment, she is an award-winning author of short fiction. Her works have appeared in The Colton Review, Raleigh Quarterly, Broken Plate Magazine, Big Muddy: A Journal of the Mississippi River Valley, the Chaffey Review, and Existere. To read all of Susie Potter’s Triangle Arts and Entertainment articles and reviews, click https://triangleartsandentertainment.org/author/susie-q/. To read more of her writings, click http://www.triangleartsreview.com/, http://www.susiepotter.com, and http://www.myspace.com/susiepotter.