The current show at University of Rhode Island Theatre is Moliere's "Tartuffe" also known as The Imposter. Written in the 1660's, the show is as fresh today as it was back then with its observation of human nature both good and bad.Tartuffe is clutching ever-present rosary beads, shifting uncomfortably within the hair shirt he wears for continual penance, and always eyeing the women as they pass by. Tartuffe insinuates himself into a wealthy Parisian household and turns it into wickedly funny pandemonium. Tartuffe, who's the central character is a wily, opportunist and swindler who affects sanctity and gains complete trust of the head of a wealthy family while everyone else sees how Tartuffe really is: crooked. Orgon plans to force his daughter to marry Tartuffe and to disinherit his son in order to make Tartuffe the sole heir to his fortune. But since this is a farce, all things eventually work themselves out. The show is a masterwork by Moliere and is set in the realm of seventeenth-century Parisian high society during the reign of King Louis XIV. Director Tom Gleadow casts some wonderful performers in these madcap roles with the misunderstandings and the appeal of the battle of wits, rhyming verse, mercurial shifts from the sacred to profane, soaring poetry and base humor with bawdy language.
This French satire on piety,directed by Tom is filled with wonderful pacing and full of witticisms and shtick that keep the audience entertained all night long. He gives every cast member their chance to shine in this show.Tom starts the show off with a Gregorian chant announcement and closes the show with Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" which the cast dances and bows to. The gorgeous 17th Century costumes and jewelry are by Marilyn Salvatore and the splendid checker board set is by Patrick Lynch.The character of Tartuffe represents those members of society who preach religious piety but don't themselves live by the morals they try to force upon others. This play was highly controversial at the time it was written because it focuses on the issue of religious hypocrisy and was banned from public performances for five years. Playing the wily and unscrupulous Tartuffe is Birk Wozniak. The character doesn't enter for quite awhile but it is well worth the wait as he oozes evil incarnate, playing this over the top role. Orgon is splendidly played by Miles Bocher. His bombastic and ridiculous praising of Tartuffe is hilarious. Miles commands the stage in this role with his line delivery, physical humor, giving a brilliant portrayal. His nervous breakdown scene in the second act stops the show with its hilarity and is one of the outstanding moments of the show. The long suffering wife, Elmire is wonderfully played by Julia Bailey who is a statuesque, beautiful brunette. Her antics to catch Tartuffe have to been seen to be believed especially when she finally ensnares him. Julia and Miles played lovers in "The Seagull" in December. Elmire's brother, Cleante is well played by T. S. McCormick. Cleante keeps trying to found a peaceful solution to the problems of the household.
The bossy maid who knows everything that is happening in the house is played by Olivia Khoshatefeh. She is a whirling dervish as Dorine, running all over the set, putting people in headlocks and chastising them for their stupidity. Orgon's overbearing and bossy mother is beautifully played by Alex Maynard. She is the bitch from hell who runs roughshod over her family but finally gets her comeuppance at the end of the show. Orgon's angry son is played by Samuel Applebaum. He is terrific as the angry young man who is disowned by his father for telling him the truth about Tartuffe's sinister behavior. Marianne, Orgon's daughter is beautifully played by Emily Foster, a gorgeous blonde. The daughter is madly in love with Valere played by award winning actor Andrew Burnap. His first entrance is hilarious and he delivers the goods in this comic role, showing he can handle comedy as well as drama after playing the doomed Treplev in "The Seagull". The funniest moment between them occurs with a tug of war with her body on the table, pulling her back and forth. However the last moment of the show belongs to the nun, Laurent, who has the last word, excellently played by Kira Hawkridge. Never mess with a nun, even back then is the strong message. Kira also assistant directed the show. So for a wonderfully funny farce, be sure to catch "Tartuffe" at URI Theatre. You will laugh all night long at these talented college students.