February 2, 1998
photo courtesy of The Village Theatre
Woodinville High School graduate Beth Madsen plays the part of Marianne in Moliere's "The Miser" playing at the Village Theatre through March 1.
by Deborah Stone
Lots of slap-stick hilarity and comic antics can be found in Village Theatre's premiere of a new adaptation of Moliere's "The Miser." This classic French farce, adapted and directed by Jeff Steitzer, uses modern language and situations and is presented in "park-style," an over-the-top, physical style inspired by The Empty Space Theatre's summer park shows of the 1970s. Moliere's original story of the miserly Harpagon, the romantic entanglements of his children, Elise and Cleante, and the schemes of his various servants is broadly exaggerated with an "anything goes" approach to this very loose adaptation. The show is filled with the typical elements of a French farce, including mistaken identities, cheating and deceptions, hypocrisy, amorous intrigues and a multitude of misunderstandings.
Actors use a combination of one-liners, gags, audience-participation jokes and stooge-like physical comedy to provide an evening that's big on laughs. There are times, however, when the cast's shtick gets excessively annoying and wears thin on the nerves. This is particularly true with John X. Deveney's Harpagon during the first act. His antics are overly insistent and repetitious, and his voice is way too loud for the audience's level of comfort. In the second act, this is less of a problem and Deveney's true comedic talents are able to shine.
Craig Wollam's marvelous set establishes a topsy-turvy, run-down feel with its skewed walls and out-of-scale angles. The costumes capture a period-like flavor done with a quirky twist. Steitzer has gathered a talented group of supporting actors who progressively get to strut their stuff in the course of the show. Included in this group are John Kauffman as the lovesick fop Cleante, Keith Dahlgren and Vincent Brady as conniving servants, Heather Hawkins and George Mount as charming Elise and her lover Valer and Beth Madsen as the sweet Marianne, the love interest of both Harpagon and his son.
Madsen, a Woodinville High graduate, is currently a drama and math teacher at Roosevelt High School. She has worked with the Village Theatre since 1989 and is delighted to be a part of "The Miser" because of its strong ensemble. "The cast is incredible," says Madsen. "We really work well together and I think the show succeeds because all of us strive to make it a fun and entertaining experience for everyone." "The Miser" runs through March 1. For ticket information call 425-392-2202.