Not being a person who thrives on the classics, I went to see the Seattle Shakespeare Company's new production of Tartuffe with guarded acceptance. I knew almost nothing about Moliere and Tartuffe, but I was willing to check it out.
What I discovered was an extremely entertaining, wonderfully staged production that kept the full-house audience engaged from beginning to very satisfying ending. Making the show even more captivating was the fact that almost all of Richard Wilbur's translation was in a rhyming poetry format.
Seattle Shakespeare Company's production of Tartuffe is set in a modern era with costumes and sets from the 1950's or 1960's, highlighting the fact that its themes of human foibles and religious zealots are timeless. Also interesting is the fact that although the religious guru Tartuffe is the centerpiece of the show and is constantly being talked about, he does not appear onstage until very near the end of the first act. This tension of waiting to see "the great guru" in person adds greatly to the overall appeal of the show while keeping the audience engaged and apprehensive.
When Tartuffe does finally appear in the flesh, the entire performance ramps up its energy to greater heights of excitement and frivolity with characters dashing around the stage at a seeming breakneck pace. With the consistently impressive R. Hamilton Wright playing Tartuffe, this show is a jewel that should not be missed and can be thoroughly enjoyed though to it's very happy conclusion.
Tartuffe continues at Seattle Shakespeare Company through April 12, 2015.
May all our lives be blessed with inspiration and insights such as those portrayed in Tartuffe.