Reviewed by Paula Citron
August 31, 2011
Stratford Shakespeare Company
Written by Molière
Directed by David Grindley
Performed by Ben Carlson, Juan Chioran, Sara Topham, Martha Farrell, Kelli Fox, Peter Hutt, Steve Ross, Trent Pardy and Brian Tree
Jul. 31 to Oct. 29, 2011
Molière’s The Misanthrope is the kind of play that Stratford does very well. They have the classically-trained ensemble to pull off the language, and in the case of director David Grindley, someone who understands the thrust stage.
The plot concerns Alceste, a man who is so against hypocrisy, that he hates humankind. Alceste always tells the truth. Did Molière mean Alceste to be a butt of satire, or is he a man of honour? That is the puzzle. If the first act seems a little talky, the second act is absolutely riveting.
Ben Carlson as Alceste turns in another brilliant performance, aided by Juan Chioran has his friend Philinte. They lead a strong cast.
Unfortunately, Sara Topham does not project clearly when turned away, and Brian Tree’s woofy voice hides his words.
Nonetheless, the production is gorgeous, given Robin Fraser Paye’s magnificent period costumes, and John Lee Beatty’s elegant set.
The Misanthrope continues at the Stratford’s Festival Theatre until Oct. 29.