More than half the actors are freshmen in the Westminster Players' production of "Tartuffe." Judge them gently and you will have an evening of hearty entertainment.
Michael Vought directs a Christopher Hampton adaptation of this Moliere play. The adaptation is lovely for modern audiences, quite understandable. And Vought inserts enough slapstick to enliven the action.
Patrick Kibbie (the one graduate in the cast) plays Tartuffe, the religious hypocrite, with great comic timing. It's fun to watch him slip into boredom when he thinks no one is looking, only to snap back into his slick and fawning self.
Connor Montgomery is Orgon, Tartuffe's patron; Kathryn Hopkins is Orgon's wife; Jennifer Niedfeldt is Dorine, the family's busybody maid.
These three, along with Kibbie, got the most laughs on opening night.
(Oh, and congratulations to hair and wig artist Jenni Lou Oakes for Hopkins' hilarious high-rise bangs.)
As usual at Westminster, the sets (this time, by Nina Vought and Bryan Jacobs) are simple and well-constructed. Doors close firmly. Tables hold up. The lighting, designed by Spencer Brown, is equally well done.
Before and during the play, Karlyn Bond plays the harpsichord, which adds to the sense that we are in Paris, mid-1600s.
In the dramaturg's notes, Alison Satterlee explains why the play ends so abruptly. It seems that shortly after the play premiered in 1664, clerics demanded Moliere's execution. (They didn't like his portrayal of one of their own.)
But King Louis XIV gave the play a license. And Moliere rewrote the ending, giving credit to the king for not being taken in by Tartuffe. Thus the somewhat unsatisfactory conclusion.Sensitivity rating: Sexual innuendo. A significant part of the plot centers around Tartuffe trying to convince Orgon's wife to have an affair with him.
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