Review: Witty play, 'Tartuffe,' goes up

The Newtonite


by Fatema Zaidi
“Tartuffe,” a witty play by Molière about a French con man’s attempts to exploit a wealthy family will go up tonight at 7:30 in the auditorium and play through Saturday.

Tickets are $7, and they can be purchased on the Theatre Ink website, www.theatreink.net, and at all lunches. Spanish teacher Dan Fabrizio is the production’s director.

The stage, which is arranged as a French living room, was designed by sophomore Max Proskauer. Junior Phoebe Arteaga designed the show’s lights, which were a dominating red during the opening scene.

Tartuffe, played by senior Sam Bell-Gurwitz, a pompous man with an aura of authority, walks onto the stage and orders the servants to rearrange the room by placing a cross on the dressing table and covering two paintings on the wall with sheets.

In the play, Tartuffe places himself in the home of the gullible Orgon, played by senior Caleb Bromberg. Even though Tartuffe is not actually a religious man, he schools Orgon in Christianity.

Everybody knows Tartuffe is a hypocrite and con man. Dorine, the sarcastic servant, played by freshman Nellie Rogers, is the character who most strongly sees Tartuffe’s negative qualities. Contrarily, Orgon sees only the pious, good natured side of Tartuffe.

This difference in beliefs about Tartuffe’s motives results in an argument between Orgon’s brother-in-law Cleante, played by junior Kyle Hartmann, and Orgon. Cleante is wise and advises his brother to distance himself from Tartuffe. He claims that his brother has lost his common sense and that Tartuffe is simply making a flashy show of piety.

But, stubbornness overtakes Orgon’s senses, and he plans to arrange a marriage between his daughter and Tartuffe. His daughter, Mariane, is played by sophomore Hannah Gallogly.

However, Mariane is intent on marrying another man, Valere, who is played by sophomore Steven Kelly. As a result, Dorine, Mariane’s opinionated house servant, declares that she will come up with a ploy to stop Tartuffe from marrying Mariane.

The key player in this scheme is Elmire, played by sophomore Emily Clott.

Elmire is Orgon’s wife and has incredible influence over Tartuffe. Whenever he is around her, he is anything but pious.

At this point in the play, all that the characters need to do is prove to Orgon that Tartuffe’s is not all he appears to be. Therefore, spying is the name of the game.

Bromberg’s expressions of admiration for Tartuffe and his show of wily temper fit Orgon’s character perfectly, making the audience laugh.

Through hidden smirks, his saucy behavior towards Elmire and his utter hypocrisy when speaking with Organ, Bell-Gurwitz plays the part of Tartuffe excellently.

Roger’s role as Dorine gives comic relief with her clever remarks and sarcasm.

Adding to the performance are the costumes, which were designed by professional designer Ruth Talvacchia.

Male characters wear French wigs and tunics with puffy sleeves and knee high pants. Tartuffe’s long, black and curly wig sets him apart from the other characters, who have either gray or blonde wigs with a braid tied at the back.

As for the girls, most of the dresses are red, gold or white, and they display the wealth of Orgon’s family.

The script rhymes in verse, which makes the show all the more enjoyable. The rhyming is especially apparent when Dorine speaks because she tends to interrupt others, yet she still rhymes with their lines. And, although rhyming can get repetitive, Molière, with the help of translator Richard English, keeps it eloquent and original.

Classical French music plays at the beginning of the show as well as between various scenes.  The music is calming and pleasant to listen to but adds drama to silent scenes, such as when Tartuffe rearranges the room.  Junior Amalia Sweet sound designed the show.

Overall, the play is a splendid mixture of comedy and a unique love story, yet it includes themes such as deceit, gullibility and gossip.