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“Tartuffe” gives Fairbanks proof Theater UAF knows what they’re doing

Elika Roohi/Sun Star Columnist
April 8, 2014

Classical French comedy is just the genre you never knew you were missing out on.

UAF Theater and Film’s recent production of “Tartuffe” delivered on every level, from dramatic twists to rhyming disses to a stellar cast adorned with complicated classical costumes. The show wrapped up their closing weekend on Sunday afternoon, but if you missed it, here’s the breakdown.

The word ‘tartuffe’ translates to ‘religious hypocrite,’ which should tell you something about the plot. The story is centered around one family that has taken in a pious and well-meaning guest by the name of Tartuffe, played by Brian Tuohy, or so it seems. After a short amount of time, almost everyone seems to see the man for what he truly is—an impudent imposter.

However, the head of the household, Orgon, played by Sambit Misra, hasn’t quite noticed this yet, and is so taken with Tartuffe that he forces his daughter to marry him. Complications ensue. Orgon’s daughter, played by Katrina Kuharich, was already engaged to another man. Tartuffe actually has the hots for Orgon’s wife, played by Sierra Trinchet. And anytime anyone brings up Tartuffe’s true nature, Orgon dismisses their opinions completely. The story ends rather abruptly with everyone getting what they deserve.

If it sounds tangled, that’s because it is.

The play may be set in 1760, but Moliere’s work is still pertinent. Dealing with people masquerading as something other than what they truly are is something we would all do well to dwell on from time to time. Especially in a world where it’s easy to hide behind a profile picture or skilled photoshopping.

In a poignant break from rhyming zingers during the play, Orgon’s brother, Cleante, played by Ethan Fifield, asks “There’s a vast difference, so it seems to me/between true piety and hypocrisy:/How do you fail to see it, may I ask?/Is not a face quite different from a mask?”

The plot is hard to follow at times, mostly due to the rhyming, proper prose everyone converses in. But once you get into the swing of the show and figure out exactly how all the characters are related to each other, it’s quite a ride.

Some highlights include Marley Horner’s excellent physical comedy as he plays Valere, the man who was supposed to marry Orgon’s daughter, Marianne, before her father insisted she marry Tartuffe. Kuharich as Marianne doesn’t have many lines during the show, but you never doubt what she’s feeling because she conveys every emotion Marianne would have at any second with expressions and squeals. And Nicole Cowans portrays the sassy maid Dorine so convincingly that you wonder if she’s had years of practice giving a piece of her mind to employers?

And finally, it never ceases to impress the number of words that can conceivably be rhymed with Tartuffe and still make sense in normal conversation.

If the show wasn’t enough to delight the audience, the cast had a special surprise at curtain call when they all came out and twerked to a dubsteb remix of Mozart’s “Ein Klein Nachtmusik.” That’s what I call keeping it relevant.

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