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SHERMAN — The Sherman Players current production of Molière’s Tartuffe is a hoot. In their 17th Century finery, an excellent cast — under the superb direction of Paul J. Tines — puts on a show which is as funny and entertaining as it was almost 400 years ago. Molière is in good hands with this cast and crew.
Tartuffe, played by Robin Frome, is a fraud. Everyone knows it except for his one-man fan club, Orgon (Bruce Tredwell). Orgon’s entire household tries desperately to convince him that he is being played by Tartuffe.
Elmire (Kit Colbourn), Orgon’s loyal wife, sacrifices her dignity to prove it. His son, Damis (Patrick Kelly), loses his residency at the estate as well as his inheritance when he fights to remove Tartuffe.
Lady’s maid Dorine (Lauren Hoag) almost forfeits her job when she argues against him. Orgon’s brother-in-law Cléante (John Fabiani) communicates his negative feelings about the poaching charlatan with long-winded pleading monologues.
His mother, Madame Pernelle (Katherine Almquist), comes to Tartuffe’s defense only when the tides have turned against the imposter. All falls on the deaf ears of the totally enamored Orgon.
Finally, when Orgon offers up his lovely daughter Mariane (Shea Coughlin) to wed Tartuffe, all rally to prevent the union. Mariane is besotted with the young and elegant Valère (Gabriel Fowler) and sick about the prospect of wedding the slovenly Tartuffe. Much weeping and wailing ensue.
When Tartuffe is caught in the act of seducing Elmire he receives his comeuppance. Tartuffe’s true nature revealed, Orgon comes to his senses, and his family’s everyday, genteel life is restored, puppy and all.
This is a comedic masterpiece that has stood the test of the centuries and been produced thousands of times, to delighted audiences everywhere. The trick is to not make caricatures of the parts. The fine cast in Sherman takes each role seriously and makes it work most completely. This production is hilarious.
Each player is a standout. The depth of talent is extraordinary. Speaking almost solely in rhyming couplets, the audience was thoroughly intrigued, anticipating what these crazy characters would say next, during a recent performance.
Director Paul J. Tines has done a beautiful job of keeping the oft times chaotic action under careful yet undetectable control. The staging flows seamlessly.
The investment by the Players in lighting is worth it. The set, designed by Paul J. Tines, is appointed with empty golden picture frames, and crystal chandeliers combined with the hazy colorful lighting, designed by Al Chiappetta, creates a mystical atmosphere.
Credit must also go to costumier Lisa Bonelli and wig designer Joseph Russo. Both used their skills to perfection, bringing authenticity and humor to the characters. In particular one must attend a show just to see Orgon flip his hair back and forth. His wig is almost a character itself. The effects are winning.
This is classic comedic theater and this wonderful production reminds audiences why these pieces endure. The full house opening night audience laughed throughout. Do not miss this topnotch production of an awesome old favorite.
(Performances continue weekends through July 31 at The Sherman Playhouse, 5 Route 39 in Sherman.
Visit shermanplayers.org or call 860-354-3622 for full details or reservations.)