This production by Bath University Student Theatre of Roger McGough’s adaptation of Moliere’s 1664 play is a pleasing thing. There’s no pretence here of naturalistic acting; the costumes and makeup are over-the-top cartoonish, and McGough’s script is in verse – not your Shakespearean blank iambic kind, but a wittily rhyming doggerel much more suitable to a comedy. And the cast romp through the improbable plot with unalloyed glee. A plot which, in a nutshell, involves Tartuffe, a greedy, lecherous schemer who pretends to be a pious and godly man, and who completely fools Orgon, the rather dim head of a wealthy household, and his battleaxe of a mother – but no-one else. And he continues to believe in him despite all evidence to the contrary, and everyone else’s vehement warnings. Until finally disaster results, and no-one can rescue Orgon. No-one, it turns out, but the immensely wise and generous King Louis XIV (Moliere, like Shakespeare, knew exactly which side his monarchical bread was buttered.), and the right people get married at the end. Of course. But the lively cast make the journey through this a delight: all the running gags work; every comic nuance is wrung from the verse; every character counts – right down to the servant Flipote, who doesn’t even have any lines. A bit invidious to pick out anyone from a uniformly fine cast; but Sam Lamont’s engagingly farcical Orgon, and Lydia Williams as the uppity servant Dorine are definitely worthy of mention.
**** – 4 Stars
John Christopher Wood