What might you think if you hear reports about a man that alternately paints him as virtuous or villainous, benevolent or brutish, saint or sinner, meritorious or monstrous, righteous or rake, angelic or arrogant, charitable or charlatan? You would be likely to take one side over the other and believe the best or the worst.
You will have your chance to pronounce character judgment in the manner of one gentleman in question and unmask the truth for yourself if you attend Westport Country Playhouse’s unique production of the Moliere comedy “Tartuffe” until Saturday, August 4.
This charming adaptation by Richard Wilbur is in rhyming verse and was originally penned by Moliere in 1664, yet it retains its cleverness and humor to this day. If you believe Orgon, a pompous and opinionated Mark Nelson, Tartuffe is the epitome of virtue, a man pious and worthy of God’s grace.
Yet everyone in Orgon’s family, from the sassy and saucy servent girl Dorine (Jeanine Serralles) to his obedient wife Elmire (Nadia Bowers), his daughter Mariane (Charise Castro Smith), his son Damis (Justin Adams), his brother Cleante (Tyrone Mitchell Henderson), all wholeheartedly subscribe to Tartuffe as a fraud and hypocrite, out to get everything Orgon is so gullibly eager to give him.
The only other person siding with Orgon is his totally focused mother (Patricia Conolly) who is, unbelievably, even more enamored by this roué. So smitten is Orgon with the chameleon-like Tartuffe, cloaked in snake skin smoothly and suavely by Marc Kudisch, that he promises Tartuffe can marry his daughter, even though she has pledged her love to the faithful Valere (Matthew Amendt).
When Orgon disowns his own son and signs over his estate and all his worldly goods to Tartuffe, he finally goes too far and forces Elmire to unmask the crafty scoundrel and reveal him for the evil schemer he truly is. David Kennedy directs this farce that starts slowly but builds to a most satisfying conclusion.
For tickets ($30 and up), call Westport Country Playhouse, 25 Powers Court, off route 1, Westport at 203-227-4177 or 888-927-7529 or online at www.westportplayhouse.org. Performances are Tuesday at 8 p.m., Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m.
Watch the naïve benefactor Orgon have his rose colored glasses surgically removed as he is tricked into seeing Tartuffe for the deceitful and dishonorable scamp he truly is.