Tartuffe is another one of those Playhouse successes that has been reviewed to death most everywhere. But as the revived run finishes in Liverpool this weekend before heading out on a national tour, it certainly warrants a quick honorary mention here.
First staged in 2008 as part of the theatre’s Capital of Culture programme, it’s now hard to imagine the city’s cultural life without this warm and funny show, and its revival is only testament to that.
The story of this production is well known. Poet Roger McGough was called upon to put his own stamp on Moliere’s Tartuffe, the story of the head of a wealthy household at the mercy of an imposter. His verse, combined with the lively direction of Gemma Bodinetz and a cast game for a laugh, make for a marriage made in heaven.
What is so wonderful about this show is its heady mix of farce and British silliness with its beautiful way with words (natch). Tartuffe is a play that credits its audience with intelligence and as such, reaps handsome rewards. Deftly performed, the time flies by. Every single word of McGough’s writing is expertly included to push the plot along without wastage. The cast – featuring many of the same faces as the 2008 production – work together particularly well and the atmosphere is joyous. In the showing I went to in the week, the audience were cooing with unrestrained delight throughout. It was just a lovely event to be part of.
And ultimately, the best thing about “McGoughiere”’s Tartuffe is that it is simply so well done, you just come out of the theatre feeling incredibly good. It is flawless entertainment that should do the city proud as it goes out again into the world.
NB: The picture above is from the 2008 production of Tartuffe.