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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 36, Number 22. 1973

Tartuffe: — by Moliere. University Drama Society. Reviewed by Cathy Wylie


by Moliere. University Drama Society. Reviewed by Cathy Wylie.

"Tartuffe" was written as a satire against the hypocrisy of concealing manipulation beneath an ideological front. Moliere's barbs are directed equally at the gullibility of those duped, those who place importance on exterior attributes (right dress, right vocabulary... rather than the hidden interior, Unfortunately, Diane Hawker's production, imaginative and well staged as it is gives the dupes sympathy, and thus converts the play from comedy to an uneasy melodrama. Jeremy Littlejohn's Tartuffe, the pious masquerade who seeks to seduce Orgon of home, property and spouse, is too credibly evil, which makes it hard to see him as an object of ridicule. Orgon himself, played by Peter White, comes close to being comic, but somehow always misses, becoming in turn pathetic and authoritarian-again too credibly for the needs of the play.

Much of the dialogue, particularly in the first half is inaudible: the cast try to imitate a sleightness of speech which takes years to master, and successfully distance the audience in a blur of emoted syllables. Some of the minor parts seem uneasy, a little forced; two mysterious stagehands in stockinged heads, feet muffled elaborately change furniture between scenes, which arouses associations in my mind far from the theme of 'Tartuffe', and were in general, one of the main sources of amusement for the sparse audience. The whole production comes close to comedy but never masters it completely. It's a very interesting failure with a director 'who should go far' as the saying goes. Certainly the production did not fail because of a lack of thought, or from an attempt to try too hard and to show how exciting, how daring she could be, unlike other more pretentious university productions.