I entered the Studio Theater curious about the play I was just about to see. I had never heard of the play Tartuffe, and didn’t even know the playwright, Molière, existed. Well, that all changed this past Saturday. I had never seen a play like this, and I was surprised at how much I related to the characters. This play I had never heard of blew me away.
Tartuffe is seventeenth century play by Molière, and as I found my seat in the theater, I knew we were going to be taken back in time. The set was designed like a French mansion, and the marble floors, intricate furniture, and beautiful metal working all took me back to a time of big wigs, and even bigger hip pads. I was admiring all the work on the set when the lights dimmed and the characters entered the stage. The lights became bright, and there was a communal gasp when everyone saw the beautiful costumes. I found my eyes darting between each character trying to absorb as much of the intricacies as I possibly could. The wigs, the shoes, the lace, the hip pads, and so much more really made me feel like I had been transported back in time. I felt this way throughout the entire play. The actors and the set created a world for the audience to look back on.
The story of Tartuffe is quite humorous. It is centered on a wealthy Frenchmen, named Orgon, who has become obsessed with a seemingly pious man, Tartuffe. Throughout the story, we learn that Orgon has provided Tartuffe with all the riches he could want to save him from poverty. Tartuffe’s piety convinces Orgon to keep providing for him, even when truth is right in front of him. Both Orgon and Tartuffe have become close friends, but Tartuffe has ulterior motives. He wants Orgon’s wealth and his wife. Orgon, being so blind to Tartuffe’s hypocrisy, almost weds him to his daughter making him his heir. All along, Orgon’s family is trying to make him understand how much of a liar Tartuffe is. Dorine, the maid, is constantly trying to get Orgon to see the truth. This all sets up a hilarious story of lying and deception.
Throughout the play, the other audience members and I couldn’t help breaking out into laughter. Each actor portrayed and extravagant personality, many of which clashed throughout the story. My favorite was the rivalry between Dorine and Orgon. Dorine constantly tries to warn Orgon of Tartuffe, but he refuses to listen. Their relationship provided humor for a play that also contained heavy themes, like deception, the role of patriarchal societies, and even hypocrisy. They almost get into a heated fight, but it ends with Dorine dusting some more and Orgon face first in a couch. Their interactions on stage was really enjoyable for the audience.
The story ends with Tartuffe almost evicting Orgon and his family from their home, but in the process, Tartuffe gets arrested. It is a funny turn of events, and the audience gets the happy ending common with a comedic play.
After watching Tartuffe, I couldn’t help but smile. The play was funny throughout, and it didn’t matter that the jokes were hundreds of years old. I loved the lightheartedness, and the humor. I will now look out for some more seventeenth-century playwrights. The story of Tartuffe is timeless, and it was a great way to take some stress out of my day. The play was a strong start to the year for the Greenhill theater department, and I am looking forward to what else they will perform in the months to come.