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Festival Review: Tartuffe ****

Michael Cox reviews a production that's 'hilarious from start to finish'.

What we have is a hybrid of a hybrid. Liz Lochhead’s marvellous Scots adaptation of Moliere’s classic comedy of religious hypocrisy was in turn trimmed for A Play, a Pie and a Pint earlier this year. Thankfully, this Tartuffe has been given a second life at this year’s Fringe.

The play is set in the house of Orgon. He’s become enamoured by Tartuffe, a man whose false piety rings untrue to all but the master, who has become so enchanted that he is willing to give the hand of his daughter and control of his finances.

This abridged version has pushed all of the supporting characters away, many of them only mentioned in dialogue or hinted at through offstage sounds. But the story is still clear enough—even if it isn’t the rich experience the full text gives.

Director Tony Cownie is blessed with many things. His cast of four are terrific across the board, with Grant O’Rourke (Orgon), Nicola Roy (his wife Elmire), Joyce Falconer (housemaid Dorine) and Andy Clark (Tartuffe) all impressing with their comedic timing and interplay with each other.

But the real star here is Liz Lochhead. Her adaptation is a rich aural experience: beautiful poetry that is never afraid to be crass or go for an easy joke.

It’s a shame the full play isn’t being presented, but what we have here is still a theatrical treat: hilarious from start to finish, this is a Tartuffe worth believing in.

Tartuffe performs at the Assembly Rooms at 1700 until August 25th.

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