Review: TARTUFFE is Full of Laughter at North Coast Repertory Theatre

Playing through April 7th

By: Mar. 20, 2024
Review: TARTUFFE is Full of Laughter at North Coast Repertory Theatre
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This standout production of "Tartuffe" at North Coast Repertory Theatre is energetic and intelligent proving that even at 360 years old,  this show can still have an audience laughing from start to finish.  “Tartuffe” is playing through April 7th.

Set in 1664 in the family home of Orgon (Bo Foxworth), a loyal noble and former soldier, who lives there with his wife Elmire (Melanie Lora), and Orgon’s children Mariane (Shanté Deloach), and Damis (Rogelio Douglas III).  Orgon and his mother Madame Pernelle (Kandis Chappell) are religiously devout and have found themselves enthralled by Tartuffe (Bruce Turk) a man who makes a great show of piety and instructs them on how to live the best possible life.

Review: TARTUFFE is Full of Laughter at North Coast Repertory Theatre

Everyone else in Orgon’s family, including his brother-in-law Cleante (Christopher M. Williams) and even the maid Dorine (Kate Karel) see Tartuffe for the grifter he is, but Orgon will have none of it.  When Tartuffe’s instruction has Orgon contemplating a change to his arrangement for his daughter’s marriage to her beau Valere (Jared Van Heel) and potentially even more disastrous decisions, they realize they have to move quickly before all is lost.

Directed by Richard Baird this show is clever, modern, and most importantly hilarious. This adaption by Richard Wilbur is written in rhyming couplets and in the hands of a less talented director and cast this farce could get stuck in a sing-song pattern and lose its effectiveness. Instead the physicality and sharp delivery of this cast only adds to the heightened hilarity of the farce and imposes a false sense of aristocratic affectation. 

The majority of the first act is a bit tricky- set up all the details and relationships through family members' conversations and try to convince the stubborn Orgon that Tartuffe is nothing but a clever con man but delay the arrival of the man himself for as long as possible. After the anticipation has built up, Tartuffe is not revealed until late in the first act, who along with his loyal servant Laurent (Kate Rose Reynolds), enters quietly and in an artful portrayal of piousness underlined by sly calculation.

Turk is exceptional as Tartuffe who is sly and always alert, ready to pivot if needed.  In the best possible way, everything about the character feels slimy; from his disheveled appearance, his lecherous behavior, and even the way he devours a chicken.  He never loses that sharp predatory gleam, especially in his dealings with Orgon’s wife Elmire. Lora as Elmire is beautiful and smart, and all her interactions with Tartuffe are an entertaining duel of wits. 

Review: TARTUFFE is Full of Laughter at North Coast Repertory Theatre

Karel as the sassy housemaid Dorine shines with comedic timing as the direct common-sense challenge to the shenanigans around her.  Williams as Cleante is the rational one, whose voice of reason is completely ignored though he continually tries to get through.

Foxworth’s Orgon is stubborn and hot-headed, outraged his family would question his wisdom in letting Tartuffe into their home. He is quick to one extreme or the other but never looks at the middle and this behaviour is mirrored in his son Damis played by Douglas. Reynolds plays multiple characters and at one point quite literally steals the show.

The drawing room scenic design by Marty Burnett is lovely and full of gilded opulence, that winks to the farce itself - from the ostentatious gold cross on the wall to the painting of a fox trying to separate a rooster from his hen.  Costumes by Eliza Benzoni are filled with elegance and color (the exception to elegance being Tartuffe’s over-the-top final look) and all are beautifully complimented by the wig design by Peter Herman.  The music and sound design by Ian Scot and the lighting by Matt Novotny help set the scene.

With this fantastic ensemble of cast and crew this production of “Tartuffe” shows that skewering hypocrisy with hilarity never goes out of style.

How To Get Tickets

“Tartuffe” is playing at North Coast Repertory Theatre through April 7th. For ticket and showtime information go to www.northcoastrep.org


Photo Credit: Courtesy of Aaron Rumley




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