From Cambridge comes news that the Hubbard Hall Theater Company is staging one of Moliere’s best known and loved comedies, Tartuffe. It is being directed by John Hadden, and will run weekends beginning tonight (February 20) through Sunday, March 15. It’s an oldie but goodie, a satiric masterpiece that is full of laughs, insights and naughty plot twists.
Tartuffe is a scoundrel who can don any pose and become a master of it. Professing extreme piety, he is taken into the household of Orgon, a wealthy man. Under the guise of ministering to the family’s spiritual and moral needs, he almost destroys Orgon’s family. Hypocrisy gone wild. Religious posturing, deceit. Legal entanglements. Wonderful absurdity.
Considered quite scandalous when first produced in 1664, Tartuffe is now is one of the most famous theatrical comedies by Molière. The characters of Tartuffe, Elmire and Orgon are considered among the greatest classical theater roles. In response to criticism of the time, Moliere responded, “The comic is the outward and visible form that nature’s bounty has attached to everything unreasonable, so that we should see, and avoid, it. To know the comic we must know the rational, of which it denotes the absence and we must see wherein the rational consists . . . incongruity is the heart of the comic.”