I directed Moliere’s The Misanthrope in May of 2005 at Shakespeare-by-the-Sea/Little Fish Theater in San Pedro. We had a very strong cast — including Barbara Suiter from my recent production of The Rover — and I staged it in the round. We used the Richard Wilbur translation.
The design team created a look for the show that emphasized style and fashion without setting it in any one particular period — there were some elements from the seventeenth century, but we also looked at current fashion design and all sorts of things to create a flashy, stylish, unique world. This is a play about being the center of attention, and these characters know how to do it.
“Truth and hilarious consequences in a Moliere comedy
Outstanding… not only is Truly able to project the rants and rages of this miserable character, a man who is in despair over the hypocrisy of Parisian society, he is in full command of the stage every time he sets foot on it.
Also excellent is Barbara Suiter, who plays the demanding role of Celimene, the love of Alceste’s life. Of course he knows that this little blond beauty is a terrible flirt, a cooing coquette who constantly teases men to distraction, but he knuckles under because of his passion for her. Even when he suspects that she’s being unfaithful, she bats her big blue eyes and gets away with it.
His best friend, Philinte (sensitively performed by Ken MacFarlane), tries to soften Alceste’s attitude toward the world to no avail. Philinte tries to convince him that the gentle, soft-spoken Eliante (Kate Woodruff) would be a much better choice than the conniving Celimene…
Things come to a head when the pompous fop Oronte (played deliciously over the top by John Reimer) asks Alceste for his opinion of his poetry. Then he proceeds to deliver the pretentious stuff in such an outrageous manner that makes it even worse. When Alceste spits out the blatant truth, the war is on.
Adding fuel to the fire is Arsinoe (the wonderfully wicked Erin Shull), a praying mantis-type female who has a dark scheme up her sleeve to get Alceste’s attention diverted to her.
Throw in the foppish behavior of two precious Marquesses (Blake Anthony and Clay Rogers) and the hysterical antics on stage reach fever pitch.
Under the dynamic direction of Josh Costello, the nine-member cast romps through Moliere’s timeless comedy with ease. This is no small task when you consider that all of it is delivered in rhyme, in accordance with Richard Wilbur’s excellent English adaptation.
Credit must also be given to Diana Mann for her sumptuous costumes and Matt Gromosini for his light design. In fact, kudos to everyone in this rollicking Little Fish Theatre production, which is a delight from beginning to end.”
-Long Beach Press-Telegram
“No exaggeration, Misanthrope is fun… razor-sharp delivery by a young cast… the audience is in for a treat… The acting is consistently good, even in the minor roles. In fact, Blake Anthony, a Yale graduate, is hilarious as the minor character Acaste, one of Célimène’s many suitors, and his self-promoting monologue is one of the production’s memorable moments…”
-The Daily Breeze
“This solid production of the great Moliere piece is played directly with a few unusual touches… clever…a great play…”
-Random Lengths News