Bilingual play serves Trumped up Moliere

AFP
For the first time in the history of London's West End theater district, a play is being staged in English and French – Moliere's classic "Tartuffe."
AFP
AFP

For the first time in the history of London’s West End theater district, a play is being staged in English and French — Moliere’s classic “Tartuffe,” transposed into Donald Trump’s United States. The comedy at the Theatre Royal Haymarket stars two television regulars from either side of the Channel — Paul Anderson and Audrey Fleurot.

In the modern take on the 1660s play, Orgon, portrayed by Sebastian Roche, is a French media tycoon in Los Angeles, who falls under the spell of radical evangelist Tartuffe.

The play is going down well with a young and enthusiastic audience calling for encores. However, newspaper critics have not been so keen. 

The Times said “Merde, what a mess,” calling it a “pretentious shambles” and “excruciating,” while The Daily Telegraph said it was “frankly maladroit.”

Director Gerald prefers to go by the acclaim from the stalls. And in Christopher Hampton’s adaptation, a final surprise twist anchors the play in the realities of the modern-day US under President Trump.

“I wanted to keep as much as possible of the original text and in thinking of the idea of a religious guru, I naturally thought of California,” Hampton said. “From that came the idea of an American Tartuffe with whom all the members of the family have to speak in English. Besides Trump, the #MeToo movement was a strong part of my thinking. Like all the great plays, ‘Tartuffe’ remains relevant in a slightly different way with the passage of time.”


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