Taproot’s ‘Tartuffe’ is a merry mix

  • Tue Feb 14th, 2012 6:53pm

<b>REVIEW | </b>By Dale Burrows For the Weekly Herald

Taproot’s “Tartuffe” triumphs. Moliere’s masterpiece is a merry mix of mirth, manners and morals, a perfect cocktail of delight.

To some, Tartuffe comes off as a saint, his soul’s single desire to serve the will of heaven. To others, he is a scoundrel, a con man conniving his way into the good graces of gullible benefactors. He is soft-spoken, mild-mannered. He is Tartuffe.

So who is Tartuffe the man?

Saint or sinner, Moliere’s ultimate answer, his script, is the least of this uproarious wild goose chase. Taproot’s staging is where the action is.

Scenic designs by Mark Lund and costume designs by Sarah Burch Gordon are feasts for the eyes. Translations into English by Richard Wilbur of Moliere’s French verse are music to the ears. Rhyming couplets that support rather than dominate are tough nuts to crack.

And Karen Lund’s directing is magician’s magic. How Lund goes with the green, brakes for the red, takes the turns and shifts speeds — well, the timing is a race car driver’s dream. It is absolutely uncanny.

Frankly, whether Tartuffe is rascal or the Buddha, I don’t care. Frank Lawler in the role took me in all the way. Lawler is a three-ring circus in himself.

Don Brady shines as Orgon, Tartuffe’s disciple, devout protector and clown to end all clowns. Ridiculously naïve or piety incarnate, you decide. Either way, I defy you to keep a straight face.

Spotlight Charity Parenzini as Orgon’s housemaid, Dorine. In a supporting role, Parenzini provides the tongue that stings and the heart that melts. She is a side show worth paying attention to.

This is a terrific cast achieving the impossible dream that farce shoots for. Every actor, I swear, is laughing as much as they make you laugh at the characters on stage, including the one they play.

Good job, Taproot.

Reactions? Comments? Email Dale Burrows at grayghost7@comcast.net or entertainment@weeklyherald.com.

‘Tartuffe’

WHEN: through March 3

WHERE: Taproot Theatre, 204 N 85th St., Seattle

TICKETS: $29-$37, available at 206-781-9707 or taproottheatre.org