Faux holy man Tartuffe has pulled the wool over no one’s eyes but Orgon much to the dismay of his family and friends. Populists and loyalists alike are skewered in Molière’s satirical farce “Tartuffe” which opened on Saturday, February 22, 2014 at A Noise Within (ANW). Julia Rodriguez-Elliott’s masterful direction of this vibrant, colorful production gives every member of the grand ensemble many moments to shine. This show is full of many delightful and hilarious moments, but with a bit of a darker undertone for balance.
Parisian patriarch Orgon (Geoff Elliott) is besotted by Tartuffe (Freddy Douglas) a con man of epic proportions whom he believes to be a destitute man of the cloth and invites him into his home, treating him like royalty. Believing Tartuffe all but walks on water Orgon fancies him for a son-in-law and demands that his daughter, Mariane (Allison Elliott) break off her engagement to Valère (Rafael Goldstein) to marry Tartuffe.
This pleases no one, least of all Tartuffe who lusts after Orgon’s wife Elmire (Carolyn Ratteray). Mariane’s lady’s maid Dorine (Deborah Strang) does her best to intervene. Cléante (Stephen Rockwell) friend and brother-in-law tries to reason with Orgon. Damis (Mark Jacobson) stands up for his sister to no avail. Even Elmire who has been subjected to unwanted sexual advances cannot convince her husband that Tartuffe is no saint.
Eventually Orgon becomes a living example of that old adage, “a fool and his money are soon parted.”
Geoff Elliott gives another fine funny performance, Alison Elliott is quite believable, Strang’s performance is fun as always and Douglas is oh so seductive as he reels his victim in. But the biggest praise goes to and the biggest laughs came from Ratteray in this reviewer’s favorite scene. No spoilers.
Angela Balogh Calin’s costumes are absolutely fabulous; Elmire’s gowns are especially exquisite. Two big thumbs up for Caity Hawksley’s hair, wig and makeup design. Frederica Nascimento’s larger than life scenic design amps up the farcical effect and mood.
Put it all together and this is one terrific show, a perfect introduction for those new to French farce, as well as a welcome offering for those who love it.
“Tartuffe” performs in rep through May 24, 2014. Tickets start at $34. Student Rush with ID an hour before performance $20. Group rates are available. Call 626-356-3100 ext. 1 or visit www.anoisewithin.org.
A Noise Within is located at 3552 E. Foothill Blvd. in Pasadena. Free parking is available in the Gold Line parking structure.