Dallas — Shakespeare Dallas is all about the Bard, right? Heck, it’s even in the name. So, why choose a talky production of Molière’s Tartuffe to entertain the outdoor picnicking masses of North Texas? Executive and Artistic Director Raphael Parry provides an answer: “While showcasing Shakespeare is one of our primary objectives, we understand the importance of exposing our audiences to other brilliant works, too.” True, it is a bold move to produce a rhyming English translation (Richard Wilbur) of a French play in conjunction with Shakespeare’s much-beloved Much Ado About Nothing; however, it is a gamble that pays off magnifiquement.
SD’s kickoff of their 43rd season with Molière’s comedy resembles what they did a few years ago with another French classic, Cyrano de Bergerac (their first non-Shakespeare play ever) and Parry displays the same kind of verve and attention to detail that he showed so well last time.
A stock comedy cadre of colorful characters rounds out the cast and they get to play on Donna Marquet’s lovely green (blue?) and purple set of furniture pieces, wainscoting and chandeliers. Jennifer J. Madison’s vibrant costumes of taffeta tutus, a real French maid outfit, a black leather punk ensemble, and shiny men’s suits with appliques all contribute to the eye-popping visuals of the show. Special recognition also for the clarion sound that had nary an issue even competing against gusty winds and a nearby party are in order for Marco Salinas (sound design) and Madeline Haas (sound engineer).
And it is not just looks and sounds that are effective as this production boasts one of the best all-around ensembles I have ever witnessed at SD. Denson’s animated maid does the in-the-know servant shtick with aplomb and Storms as Mariane’s fiancé is a stylized purple popinjay delight. Christopher Curtis as Cléante provides some nice polish as the voice of reason and Garrett and Donjalea Reynolds Chrane as Orgon’s wife, Elmire are sparkling, if somewhat interchangeable. Nice chops by Mickey Alpert playing a Green Day version of Orgon’s son, Damis.
The much spoken-of Tartuffe does not make his appearance until Act Three, but Lush’s scenery chewing (in a good way) portrayal makes it worth the wait. Finally, there is Young’s iteration as the master of the house. His boundless energy, charm, and love for being onstage are infectious and waft through the assembled crowd like a cool breeze on a hot summer evening. SD, indeed, has a gem in Mr. Young.
So, Shakespeare Dallas does not have to do Shakespeare to “create exemplary cultural programs for North Texas that are affordable and accessible to the community inspired by the quality and standards found in the works of William Shakespeare.” Their très bon production of Tartuffe fulfills their mission, and that is very good in any language.
» Tartuffe runs in rotating repertory with Much Ado About Nothing, here are the details:
- Tartuffe Beginning June 25, it runs Wednesdays-Fridays at 8:15 p.m. through July 18
- Much Ado About Nothing Previews June 18-19, opens June 20, with more performances on June 21-22. Beginning June 24, it runs Tuesdays, Saturdays and Sundays at 8:15 p.m. through July 19
- Mondays are dark