I appreciate all kinds of arts- music, visual, abstract, textile, acting. But I am not good at any of them. And that’s ok, my strengths (I think) lie in other areas. The cast of Moliere’s Tartuffe, performed by the Swan Hill Theatre Group, clearly have their strengths in the world of acting. The cast of 11 (and from my calculation, all under the age of 30, and all locals) have me in awe of what they performed on Thursday the 10th of November.
The story of Tartuffe was an unfamiliar one to me, however a popular play studied in French high schools. I wish I’d been given the chance to study it rather than Shakespeare’s Othello in high school. But in a way I’m glad I didn’t, as not knowing the story kept me in suspense of how the storyline was going to all turn out.
Without giving too much away, Orgon (Tim Lenton) and his mother Madame Percell (James Hinton) are besotted with the new priest in town, named Tartuffe (Kyle Ford). All of Organ’s family can’t see what the two of them see in Tartuffe, and are completely devastated when he attempts to cancel the wedding of his daughter Mariane (the endearing Brodi Purtill) to her beloved Valere (a hysterical performance by Emma Kelly), so that she can marry Tartuffe. The outspoken maid Dorine (Ashleigh Smith) sets about to sabotage the wedding along with help from Orgon’s wife Elmire (Kearie Green’s seduction scene is brilliant), Orgon’s son Damis (Andre Theron) and Orgon’s brother-in-law Cleante (Emily Smith). But things aren’t all as they seem, with a number of unexpected twists along the way.
The actors are required to recite minutes of witty and hilarious rhyming monologues and conversations, which blows my mind. Not only do they remember them all, but they also manage to not laugh. There are no second takes in the live-theatre business and there’s no-one to tell you what to say next if you’ve forgotten. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again; I was in awe.
There’s also something a little bit naughty about hearing people swear in live theatre- Ordon’s son Damis (played with enthusiam by Andre Theron) swears like a trooper, but all in context I assure you. So many of the lines in this play could relate to recent election campaigns and results, as well as how we can easily get caught up seeing only what we want to see. That’s the best kind of theatre I believe, the one that can shock you and make you think.
There are two shows remaining- tonight and tomorrow night (Friday 11th and Saturday 12th of Nov). I highly recommend you get yourself along, you won’t be disappointed.
Moliere’s Tartuffe, performed by the Swan Hill Theatre Group
Swan Hill Memorial Theatre, 47 McCallum Street Swan Hill. Show starts at 7:30pm. Tickets $15-$20