|Review The Hypocrite (Tartuffe). The Melbourne Theatre Company production of Justin Fleming's adaptation received excellent reviews.
The Age review said: "Double standards and bright lights equal high drama.
Author: Martin Ball, Reviewer
Publication: The Age
By Moliere, translated by Justin Fleming, Melbourne Theatre Company, Playhouse, Arts Centre, November 12. Until December 13. Running time: 150 minutes. www.mtc.com.au
"IF YOU believe our major theatre companies, 2008 is the year of the hypocrite. It began with Malthouse Theatre's modernisation of Moliere's Tartuffe set in a glitzy Toorak world of swimming pools and sunglasses, and now MTC is presenting the same play in a timeless version that brilliantly highlights the central themes of hypocrisy and enlightenment.
MTC's The Hypocrite is a great success in many ways, beginning with Justin Fleming's skilful and witty translation.
Fleming brings a thoroughly modern idiom to the text, while largely retaining the rhyming couplets of the original French. It's a great achievement, intelligent and entertaining.
Director Peter Evans has chosen his metaphors well, and makes sure no one can miss them. It begins with a pointed reference to light, as our gaze is directed to the 22 chandeliers hanging like swords of Damocles above the actors. It continues through the cardboard box of light bulbs that sits on stage, and it finishes in the glare shone at the audience's eyes when Tartuffe is finally undone.
Evans takes the extra step of demanding the audience see itself in the show, firstly in the large mirror at the back of the stage, but also by opening the wings and exposing the structures of the set, and ultimately by making the audience itself responsible for Tartuffe's fate.
The theme of light is, of course, undercut by the absence of enlightenment in the main character Orgon, wonderfully played by Garry McDonald. This is a role made for McDonald, and he doesn't put a foot wrong.
Kym Gyngell is a self-effacing Tartuffe, one moment pious and ascetic, the next lascivious and greedy. His timing and delivery is terrific, especially in his seduction scene with Elmire, played coolly and professionally by Marina Prior.
Nicholas Bell brings an assuredness to the complex language as Cleante, while Kerry Walker hams up the jokes as Madame Pernelle.
Stephen Curtis' multi-era design facilitates some good farce with closets and trapdoors, as well as an exquisite encounter on the glass table. His bold colours code the characters effectively - pink for the girl, blue for the boy, black for Tartuffe and so on- including a magnificent lime frock coat for McDonald.
There were a few hiccups on opening night, with actors tripping over each other's lines, and Gyngell fluffing a stage cue. There is, after all, an enormous amount of text, but it's a fine show, well acted and directed, with clear and consistent ideas."
The review of The Melbourne Theatre Company production of Justin Fleming's adaptaion of The Hypocrite (Tartuffe) in the Sunday Herald Sun November 16, 2008 (Jane Howard) said "Devilishly Clever Farce, delicious, a night of vocal acrobatics and risque fun. The show struck a chord. Devilishly clever farce. The rhyming script echoes the original and is a considerable challenge for the actors. They succeed admirably. Recommended"
The review of The Melbourne Theatre Company production of Justin Fleming's adaptaion of The Hypocrite (Tartuffe) in the Herald Sun November 14, 2008(Chris Boyd) said "Likeable, funny, clever, spectacular. Justin Fleming's translation owes a lot to Byron, with its long lines and crazy rhymes. Director Peter Evans revels in the cartoonery and buffoonery. So do the cast members - Immensely good fun."