[THEATRE/Comedy ~ GBR]
The Arch at Holden Street Theatres, Sun 16 Mar.
There have been many adaptations of Moliere’s 17th Century play Tartuffe over the years and many more productions – including a relatively recent version by State Theatre Company in 2016. There have also been many translations of script, but this is the first in broad Scots. Liz Lochhead’s script, although first created for a lunchtime theatre project for Glasgow, works well in a Fringe setting where quick entertainment is often required.
The plot remains largely the same despite being cut down to just under an hour and reduced to only the four central characters. But the exaggerated characters, the cheeky humour and the rhyming couplets stay true to form. Some of the rhymes Lochhead employs are wonderful, and the idioms and turns of phrase are what helps make this such a delightful production. Until the ear gets attuned to the turns of phrase a helpful screen translates the dialogue, but this can become distracting, drawing the eye away from the prowess of the acting.
As befits a farce, the acting by Joyce Faulkner as the cynical maid Dorine, and Nicola Roy as Elvira the clever wife, Andy Clarke as the pious but scheming and sleazy Tartuffe, and Harvey Wood as the gullible husband is broad and exaggerated, but the skilled delivery by these actors is always subtle and nuanced, with excellent timing and phrasing. They milk the play on words and bring out the humour wonderfully. Faulkner’s facial expressions and audience asides are especially amusing. So, too, is Andy Clarke’s leering. I especially liked the dirty state of Tartuffe’s long johns under his clerical suit – a nice production touch.
This is a version of Tartuffe worth seeing. The comedic elements don’t rely as much on the use of slapstick antics as some other productions, but it does remind us that unscrupulous scams and self-righteous indignation are nothing new – be it C17th France, 1930s Glasgow or contemporary times. If you feel like you’ve seen this play too often on stage or screen don’t be put off – the Scottish context and the quality acting make this a version worthy of another look.
Come have a wee laugh why don’t you!
Tartuffe continues at The Arch at Holden Street Theatres, at various times, until Sun 15 Mar.
Book at FringeTIX on 1300 621 255 and adelaidefringe.com.au. Click HERE to purchase your tickets.