Tartuffe

By Molière

Translated by Richard Wilbur

Directed by Julia Rodriguez-Elliott

Feb 15 - May 24, 2014

Critics Choice

“Delightful!” – Los Angeles Times
“Julia Rodriguez-Elliott’s masterful direction of this vibrant, colorful production gives every member of the grand ensemble many moments to shine.” – Examiner
“Put it all together and this is one terrific show” – Examiner
“…The show looks and sounds a treat…” – Glendale Press

A fox in the hen house; a rat is in the cellar; a snake is in the grass – Oh, Monsieur Tartuffe! The world’s most famous scoundrel’s story, Tartuffe is comic genius Molière’s tale of naiveté, religious hypocrisy, and the triumphant victory of good over evil – and all in rhyming couplets!

Madame Pernelle visits her son’s Orgon’s house and proceeds to criticize all of the members of the household while praising their boarder, Tartuffe, for his holiness and zeal. The family protests that Tartuffe is false and hypocritical, but Madame Pernelle dismisses their objections. As she leaves, she admonishes everyone to follow Tartuffe’s precepts. After Madame Pernelle’s departure, Cléante, Orgon’s brother in-law, and the maid Dorine talk about Tartuffe and both agree that he has beguiled Orgon. Damis, Orgon’s son, wonders whether his father will still allow Mariane to marry Valère; Damis must know Orgon’s feelings because he wants to marry Valère’s sister. He asks Cléante to question Orgon about his promise to allow the marriage to take place. Orgon arrives and seems much more concerned about the welfare of Tartuffe than he is about his wife Elmire’s illness. Cléante tries to discuss Tartuffe’s hypocrisy with Orgon, but he fails and discovers that Orgon is only interested in singing Tartuffe’s praises. When Orgon is questioned about the intended wedding, he dodges the issues and refuses to give a direct answer.

When his daughter arrives, Orgon tells her that he wants to ally Tartuffe with his house; this he can best do by Mariane’s marrying Tartuffe. Mariane is so shocked that she cannot believe her ears. After Orgon departs, Dorine reprimands Mariane for not having refused to marry Tartuffe. Mariane’s beloved, Valère, arrives and accuses her of consenting to the marriage. Dorine listens to them argue and then, after they are reconciled, she promises to help them expose Tartuffe’s hypocrisy. In an attempt to reveal Tartuffe’s hypocrisy, Damis hides in a closet when he hears Tartuffe entering the room followed by Elmire. Thinking that they are alone, Tartuffe professes his love to Elmire and suggests that they become lovers. Damis reveals himself and threatens to expose Tartuffe. When Orgon arrives, Damis tries to inform his father about Tartuffe’s proposition, but Orgon is so blind that he thinks his own son is evil in trying to defame Tartuffe’s good name and he immediately disinherits his son. When Orgon is alone with Tartuffe, Orgon reveals that he plans to make Tartuffe his sole heir and his son-in-law. They leave to execute this plan.

Later, Cléante tries to reason with Tartuffe, but Tartuffe only responds in religious clichés and he hastily excuses himself from the room. Orgon tells Elmire of his plan to make Tartuffe his son-in-law and sole heir. She convinces her husband to hide and observe how Tartuffe acts when Orgon is not around. When Tartuffe arrives, he makes declarations of his love for Elmire as well as derogatory comments about Orgon. Finally convinced of Tartuffe’s hypocrisy, Orgon emerges and orders Tartuffe to leave the household. Tartuffe then reveals that legally he is now the owner of the house, since Orgon has signed over all his property. Orgon tells his wife that he is frightened because, earlier, he had entrusted some
secret documents to Tartuffe’s care — documents which could ruin Orgon’s trusted position in the court. When Madame Pernelle arrives, Orgon cannot convince her that Tartuffe is a hypocrite until she hears the news that Tartuffe is having the entire family evicted Tartuffe arrives with officers of the court and orders them to remove the family from the house. When all hope seems lost, one of the officers reveals that the king has seen through the hypocrisy of Tartuffe and ordered that Tartuffe should be imprisoned and Orgon’s property restored.

Source:
Utah Shakespeare Festival Study Guide (edited).