‘Tartuffe’: Busting Out and Hiding Under
By Guest Staff Reviewer Kirstyn Trombetta
Currently playing at The Leeward Theatre is Moliere’s classic, Tartuffe, directed by Leeward Community College Theatre professor, Betty Burdick. This particular play has been performed on stages around the world for more than three centuries, and has found its way onto The Leeward Theatre’s newly-created stage in a classroom location.
Let me first congratulate those who involved themselves in putting together such a well-crafted stage area. I know it must have taken an incredible amount of muscle power to accomplish such a prolonged feat. The space is simple yet striking; gleaming and vibrant. Kudos to The Leeward Theatre staff and its volunteers!
For those who have not studied the play, the title Tartuffe is a reference toward the name of the scoundrel inducing much of the events of the story. Tartuffe, played by Justin Woznock, is an imposter who masterfully acts his way into getting what he wants, whether it be riches, or women. Although it would seem Tartuffe is the central character, he does not make an appearance within the first forty-five minutes. Everyone on stage expresses their individual opinions about the man (most of them being negative). There is a clear sense that majority of the household sees right through his trickery. In fact, there is so much talk about Tartuffe that the audience gradually develops a desire to finally see him for themselves. The only people who seem oblivious to Tartuffe’s facade are Orgon (John Barajas Jr.), who is the man of the house, and Madame Pernelle (Emily Charleton), Orgon’s mother. In fact, Orgon pretty much worships him and he doesn’t care to conceal it. His sudden outbursts are amusing at first, but seem to yank a little too hard and long as time goes on. Dorine (Juvy Lucina), the only servant with a clue, is cunning and the only one brave enough to snap at the foolish master. Her stuffed, busty chest serves as a brief kind of amusement, and warning: it may distract audience members. An interesting addition to the show were the dopey servants acting as background and silly transition characters. They are cute (Chelsea Campbell, Sam Fukushima, Sandra Piber). One of my favorite scenes is the famous table scene when Tartuffe tries to advance on Orgon’s wife, Elmire (Elizabeth Mervin) for a second time while Orgon hides under the table so that he may see Tartuffe’s true colors. Another great moment is the conversation between Dorine and Orgon when Orgon persistently shows his concern for Tartuffe more than his own wife’s health.
Tartuffe is a fun time, beautifully envisioned, and I can tell the cast members enjoy playing with one another.