To commemorate Molière’s 400th birthday the Stratford Festival presented The Miser in a new modern version by Ranjit Bolt directed by Antoni Cimolino with Colm Feore as Harper, & Lucy Peacock as Fay (the matchmaker).
Life imitated art at this production of The Miser on Tues Aug 16 – the house ambient sound was of a thunderstorm – when I exited the Festival Theatre after the show, there was a real thunderstorm. The show itself was excellent in this new adaptation of the Molière. It has been updated to today – full of texting & references to ghosting, memes, FBI raids & Toronto centric shops, Skip The Dishes delivery, the dismay of living in Scarborough.
The rather knotty plot of coincidence, misunderstandings & deliberate misinformation is well delineated – no one, but the characters, is confused by the various threads of subplots & withheld information. It also answers that burning question of what to do if your windowed father is determined to marry the girl he doesn’t know you want to marry.
One key to the play, that I didn’t fully recognize until after the performance, was the influence of Commedia dell’arte on Molière that echoed through this production with the older wealthy man, perky maid (or matchmaker), high-class hopeless lovers etc. Harper’s 2nd act lavender silk top & tails with bellbottoms quickly turn him into a Pierrot . You’ll have to see this excellent production to track down all the Commedia parallels.
The show moves quickly, the cast is energized by the wordplay of the text & Colm seems happy to step out of Richard III into someone lighter. Lucy Peacock relished the opportunity to wear slutty modern wear & her glittery heels deserved a bow of their own. An actress friend of mine once told me she didn’t really feel a character until she had the right shoes. Lucy had the right shoes for sure.
They text is amusing, has several laughs but it isn’t punchline laughter & makes fun of serious theatre, greed, & endlessly big reveal denouements of the ‘Luke I am your Father’ type. I also appreciated an ending in which the principle character doesn’t learn any important life lessons as he is reunited happily with the love of his life – a suitcase full of cash. Highly recommend.
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