Jeff Smith 12:01 p.m., March 29
"Wouldn't the social fabric come undone if we were wholly frank with everyone?" In Molière's masterful comedy, Alceste hates flattery and flatterers, which means, in his era, most everyone. He wants to change the world from fawning hypocrisy to "sincerity in excess." This most rational of males, however, is smack dab in love with Celimene, who banquets on compliments from an armada of admirers. She's the opposite of Alceste - or is she? When push slams into shove, Celimene unleashes a Tourette's syndrome-screed that indicts everyone. In UCSD Theatre's curriculum, The Misanthrope fulfills the requirement of actors doing a verse play. But with James Winker's excellent direction, except for the occasional obvious couplet, you'd never know it. Winker's well-spoken cast fills the poetic translation (Richard Wilbur's?) with passion and wit. Third-year MFA Joel Gelman's a marvel as Alceste; he's stark, raving sane. Talented Cate Campbell, first-year MFA, gives Celimene coy, controlling behavior, until she flips her switch and goes lights out. The supporting cast - especially Josh Wade's Philinte and Patrick Riley's decadent Acaste - has no weak links. Nor does the design work (especially Christine Crook's period-eclectic costumes, including a sporty pink waist bow for Celimene). Thomas George's gold-streaked set cuts out about a third of the Mandell Weiss Forum's seats, which makes for intimacy with Molière's passel of ardent hypocrites.
Worth a try.
When: Ongoing until Saturday, February 7, 2009
- Wednesdays, 8pm
- Thursdays, 8pm
- Fridays, 8pm
- Saturdays, 2pm & 8pm