Sunday, June 19, 2011

Molière In The Canyons

"Outdoors and inspired" (per the website tagline) best summarizes last night's Tartuffe at The Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum. Set in the wilderness of Topanga Canyon, the Theatricum is a unique arts and theater place, with an open-air amphitheater oozing hippie-zen vibes, and a bunch of actors concocting awesome theatrical events on shoestring budgets, carrying on the theater's founding legacy of unimpeded, joyful creativity.

Tartuffe in such a setting felt like a match made in heaven. As LAist writes in its review of the play, "The Botanicum space is expansive, with hillside walkways, cultivated gardens and plenty of picnic room in front of the concession stand. Beyond that, the gently sloping walk gives rise to a wide wooden stage and a two-level playhouse sitting squarely stage left. Seating pushes up and away from the stage in a series of benches and bleachers before giving in to the woodland beyond the lights. This, here, with the chandelier dangling from the wise old tree at the back of the stage, is where Tartuffe belongs."

With plenty of room for Molière's signature quid pro quos and other buffoonish outbursts, "The space, as open as it is, lets the whole production breathe and simply play. Characters enter and exit in all manner, using corners and pathways that help blend the landscape into the show."

Kudos to Ellen Geer for her excellent adaptation of the play (unimpeded indeed,) and to Aaron Hendry as a larger than life Tartuffe in this timeless critique of human character. A thoroughly enjoyable evening, with lots of laughter and action.
photo LA Frog

No comments: