"Tartuffe" is a Moliere classic. It is a story about Orgon, his perfect family and a pious fraud named Tartuffe. It was never really clear to me how a successful man like Orgon could be so taken by Tartuffe but he is and his family feels the effects of it. Orgon and his mother are so in rapture by this man that they get to the point where they make no decisions without the advise and opinion of Tartuffe.
Tartuffe's antics do not fool the rest of the family or their friends; they detest him. Orgon insists that his daughter Mariane (already engaged to Valere) will marry Tartuffe. It becomes quite clear how embedded Tartuffe has become in Orgon.
In an effort to show how conniving Tartuffe is, Elmire (Orgon's wife), devises a trap to lure Tartuffe in and show Orgon Tartuffe's sexual desire for her. When their son Damis jumps out before trap succeeds and the whole plan implodes; Orgon banishes his son from the house. In using reverse psychology, Tartuffe is still well in control of the families home. Orgon goes further, he signs over all his worldly possessions to Tartuffe.
"Tartuffe" sparked conflict when it first was written. Many were offended by the play's portrayal of someone who was outwardly pious but fundamentally mercenary, lecherous and deceitful and who uses their profession of piety to prey on others. If not for Louis XIV, the king of France at the time, Moliere would have not been able to publish this work as both the French Catholic Church and the French upper-class opposed this play. In 1669, Moliere was allowed to perform the final version of "Tartuffe".
Moliere has written: "The Misanthrope"; "The Miser"; "The School For Wives"; "Don Juan"; "Monsieur de Pourceaugnac" as well as "L'Amour medecin to name a few. Moliere in his lifetime was considered one of the best writers in the world. His unique and in-depth style was unlike any other writer of his time. Moliere was known to offend many people across various classes.
"Tartuffe", it can be argued is one of Moliere's most classic play's. What is not a classic, however, is the way that Moliere In The Park put on this production. The "diverse", "inclusive" cast made this torturous too watch. "Tartuffe" is a classic body of work; it needs classic actors trained in classic theater. The entire cast with the exception of Esparza is weak in their roles and as such, the play is like watching paint dry. Even if the actors had the benefit of a stage to act this play on, I highly doubt that it would work the way it was set up with the cast the play was given. For the theater lover, this rendition of "Tartuffe" is an insult. In MIP's production, for some reason, Tartuffe is continually called a bigot. Why? In the original book is bigot mentioned in the text? Tartuffe is a charlatan; why is bigot used. Maybe it has to do with the beginning of the show when cast members get on there soap box and start talking politics (which is completely uncalled for). Is the director trying to bring in some sublimed message? Is Tartuffe now practicing systemic racism? Will classic productions like "Tartuffe" be subjected to re- writing to fit the political views of directors?
This "Tartuffe" can be missed for sure as it adds no cultural value to the great writing of Moliere. Past productions in and around the New York City area have been acted with passion; steadfast to the spirit of Moliere. This one misses on all accounts.