Stephen Rockwell (Cléante), Alison Elliott (Mariane), Deborah Strang (Dorine) and Carolyn Ratteray (Elmire) in A Noise Within's "Tartuffe." (Craig Schwartz)
Who says Sundays need to be spent out in the loud and foggy city anyways? I prefer to spend my Sundays indoor, and I like it dark and quiet.
A Noise Within in Pasadena showcased its titillating representation of Moliere’s “Tartuffe” on Sunday February 23.
The acclaimed classical theatre presented a hilarious account of Moliere’s renowned comic satire. The play was originally presented in the 1992-1993 season, yet somehow I doubt that it was as spectacular as it was on this splendid burlesque-inspired day.
Julia Rodriquez-Elliot, the play’s director, says that what interests her about this play is the ability of one individual to take hold of the mind of another. She asks herself and the audience how one can allow such power to be taken from us, even if it is in times of viable sensorial weakness.
I concur with Rodriguez-Elliot and find myself absolutely fascinated with the way in which the character Tartuffe overpowers the mind and hearts of those he senses lack a cemented opinion of themselves.
In this story, Tartuffe (Freddy Douglas) is a pauper saved from poverty by the hand of an over-willing and under-minded innocent man. A hand from which Tartuffe unravels his sly wickedness and bases his actions off of the endless love and devotion he supposedly carries for his God. Tartuffe, a character filled to the brim of piety, takes hold of this man’s home.
The dunce that is entangled in the web of righteousness that Tartuffe has spun ends up in quite a predicament, as his family suffers because of his inability to open his eyes and see the real evil behind Tartuffe.
The entire production was incredible. The stage encompassed a Parisian feel as we were enamored by the costume designs of Angela Balogh Calin.
The women’s dresses were frilly, colorful, fun and sexy as they should be in a provocative piece like “Tartuffe.”
The furniture brought richness to the stage with a Victorian hint of romance and murk with its black chandeliers and matted black dining table and velvet loveseats with backs high enough to hide behind. The props and set up of this production were absolutely essential in depicting the home of Orgon (Geoff Elliott) and the wealth of the esteemed family.
The stage transformed the entire theatre into a home and we were mere peepers as we sat in silence in the dark corner observing the scenes unravel into our surroundings,
This theatre not only projected “Tartuffe” in an exquisite genuine fashion but it planted a seed of hate for Tartuffe’s character in our hearts. The type of hate you love to meddle in because this character is just such a horrid man. The play was hilarious and charming – childlike even – but the way in which the play itself took hold of the onlooker’s feelings was amazing.
The actors (Elliott, Douglas, Rafael Goldstein as Valère, Jane Macfie as Madame Pernelle, among others) were absolutely marvelous in their characters and the sweat on their foreheads sold me at every drop. Every chuckle and every sigh of romanticized exasperation won over the hearts of the audience and infused it with a passion to match their own.
By the end of this play, the audience was grunting and cringing at the maliciousness that ran through Tartuffe’s veins and were altogether hanging on to the stage by their teeth because of its luring magic.
Overall a pleasing, uplifting and most importantly, inspiring show, highlighting the importance of being strong willed and strong witted, as well as being secure with ourselves.
“Tartuffe” is now playing at A Noise Within in Pasadena through May 24.
For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.anoisewithin.org.