There is just something about an up-to-date translation that warms the heart and brings a kind of fellowship between the audience and the characters, especially when those characters accuse the audience of stealing their money. David Chambers' new translation of Moliere’s The Miser keeps enough of the 17th century to keep the character in context but an equal part of the Seattleite to keep local audiences entertained.
Brian Claudio Smith, Todd Jefferson Moore and Jennifer Sue Johnson in The Miser. Photo by John Ulman.
The Miser directed by Robert Currier at the Seattle Shakespeare Company uses these local jokes to accent a story that already has a wealth of hilarity. The slapstick comedy with the movements of the characters and the sound design are just supplemented by the witty remarks and the stereotypical moves of the characters.
The story’s central character, Harpagon, played crooked and crazily by Todd Jefferson Moore, is an aged man who always has enough fight for his money. That race for more cash leads him to try and marry is only daughter, Elise, to an older rich man and persuades him into marrying the woman his son, Cleante, is in love with. These quadrangles of love and money cause lots of fist fights and jokes between the family members who drag their lovers into the fray.
These lovers swim or swoosh across the stage towards one another and agree to abandon their father and his promise of inheritance if they could only have their love. These highly stylized movements are done on a very decadent set for Seattle Shakespeare Company. It has doors that open and close and intricate perspective design and even candles. It helps to bring in the eccentric world of modern Moliere and create an equally funny backdrop. The style of the costumes also help to show the depth of the stereotypical characters. The brother, Cleante, is fantastically overdressed for the time and makes faces that parallel his almost clownish garb.
Seattle Shakespeare Company has made every inch of this production a wild entertaining ride and is a nice intro to the kind of satirical comedies that befit Moliere. One should see it if only for the dancing.
March 14th, 2008
Seattle Shakespeare Company
March 13 – April 6
More info and show times: http://www.seattleshakespeare.org/
Seattle Shakespeare Company’s ticket office: 206-733-8222
Ticket office hours: Tues – Fri: 1 – 6 p.m. and one hour before curtain Mon, Sat & Sun: One hour before curtain.
Seattle Shakespeare Company is located in the Center House Theatre at Seattle Center. It is served by buses 3,4,5,8,16,19,24,74 and 82. For bus times: triplanner.metrokc.gov
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