In my twenty-one years of life their have only been a handful of moments that have given me the certain kind of pleasure and enjoyment that something as marvelous as Vanguard’s own Lyceum Theater’s production of “Tartuffe” has given me. And that kind of pleasure was a simple amusement.
Last Friday during the opening night of the play, my good friend Destinee and I got dressed up and went out to see “Tartuffe.” Sprinting up to the ticket booth at 7:05 we were worried about being late and being met with closed doors only to be relieved that we had just remembered the times wrong and had an extra half hour before we were to be seated.
My feelings that night as I went to the show were not in the highest of places. My mother had called me beforehand to inform me that my only Grandfather had just suffered a stroke and was in medical care. This was also the day before her birthday.
These personal affairs mixed in with the hearsay around campus that “Tartuffe” was going to be a bust had me unamused and ready to doodle pictures of past friends in my notebook.
Then my eyes looked up.
The set for “Tartuffe” is probably one of the most gorgeous set designs I have ever laid eyes on. Even when compared to professional productions nothing was as simple yet elegant as this one. With no prior knowledge of “Tartuffe’s” setting, I was transported to a new place, one of elegance and wealth in a French Golden Age home.
I would rather not give too much away, mainly because I urge you to go and see this play if for no other reason than to appreciate the care and handiwork that went into this stage. Paul Eggington (Scenic Designer) and Isaiah Nuno (Assistant Scenic Designer) you have knocked this one out of the park for me.
When the play opens up two things became apparent. Firstly “Tartuffe,” while not being written by Shakespeare, certainly sounds like it coud have been–may be hard for some to follow along with. And secondly, every, single, line, rhymes!
A smile will always be across my face at a well spoken rhyme. There is simply something about the un-poetic English language that makes any rhyming verse all the more better. And this play does an excellent job at this, making each line, in my eyes at least, a brilliant masterpiece.
And while the speech may at times be hard to follow and some words hard to understand, I was never truly lost from the story and plot of this play. And that is primarily due to the excellent actresses and actors that Vanguard put into this play.
All of the performers in this production did a great job of depicting the story line through simply tone and gestures alone. Throughout the entirety of the play I knew where we were and what was going on, and much of that is due to their brilliant work.
Now before I get into the stars of the show I must first answer questions that I know are the real reasons why you wish to go see the show:
Yes, there is a dog in the play. Yes, she is a good actress. Yes, I wanted to go pet her, and, no, I never got the chance. And finally, yes, she does in fact wear a wig, and yes, it is unbelievably cute.
Now, as for the more anthropological performers, I was ecstatic to see that Andreas Schmidt was given one of the lead roles as Orgon. Hands down, he has been my favorite actor in any Vanguard play, and he did not disappoint this time around. I mean, what else can I say? I’m a huge fan.
Another star on the stage is none other than Marissa Del Gatto in her role of the house maid, Dorine. Marissa never broke character or her beautiful accent throughout the entire show, yet managed to deliver to the audience a character that kept us laughing. Her talent on stage can be easily seen by anyone, and for me at least, I believe that she has the talent and drive to do anything in the theater business.
It is here that I would like to interject one of my favorite parts of the show, and how I apologize that you will not be able to witness it. During the first act, Schmidt’s character was giving a stern lecture to Del Gatto as she mockingly walked down the stairs sweeping away. Then she promptly and accidentally tripped.
It made sense of course though, she was walking down stairs in heels with a broom in hand trying to sweep. When she was looking away at Andreas as he spoke she simply missed her footing.
Yet what could have ruined the scene indeed ended up adding to it. Schmidt continued to insult her without missing a beat. Del Gatoo rolled her eyes at him as though it were part of the show. In all honestly, I thought it was part of the act until I was informed later it was not.
Yet the actor who truly stole the show itself was alumni Ryan Miller in the roll of the heathen Tartuffe.
Never before has such a simple and obvious character been played so well. Miller took his whole body mind and soul as he enraptures the audience with his charm. He was funny, devious, and splendid throughout the entire show; not once was I disappointed with his performance.
This play will not have you leaving deep in thought about culture or ideals among society as some works could do. Rather this had me leave with a skip in my step and a full heart. I would recommend this play to anyone who wants to enjoy a few hours of laughs, some good acting, and a spirit in need of enrichment.