4 out of 5 stars
Theatre_Tartuffe_© Robert Day.jpg
© Robert Day

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

Friendly warning! We're working hard to be accurate. But these are unusual times, so please check that events are still happening.

Thanks to the National’s blockbuster ‘Servant of Two Masters’ remake ‘One Man, Two Guvnors’, it’s been a good year for knowing adaptations of commedia dell’arte classics.

This English Touring Theatre version of Moliere’s controversial smash about a manipulative charlatan is more restrained than the NT’s tour de force. But in some ways it’s an equally striking makeover, thanks to Roger McGough’s lugubrious verse translation.

It’s both a strength and weakness of Gemma Bodinetz’s production that everybody – bar Colin Tierney’s shifty-eyed Tartuffe, who talks in uncouth prose – sounds like a bit of the same McGough poem. Which is what they are, in a sense, but the voices are so overwhelmingly McGough-ish that the characters lose a certain amount of definition.

It’s forgivable, though, because the upside is that this ‘Tartuffe’ is heaving with understatedly killer lines – ‘What is it about this interloper/that makes you commit faux pas after faux pas?’ was a personal favourite, and there’s a genius running joke about the French characters pretentiously misquoting English proverbs.

The drollness of the text and arch exuberance of Bodinetz’s production make for a slightly awkward match at times, but it builds up an impressive head of steam, and the glee with which the cast chomp into their lines is evident and infectious.



You may also like