Written by 4:56 pm Anaheim, Review, The Larking House Theatre Company, Theater, Uncategorized

Molière’s Tartuffe @ The Larking House – Review

photo credit: Lizzy McCabe

Written by Daniella Litvak

Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, better known as Molière, was a 17th-century French actor and playwright whose influence on theater is on par with Shakespeare. Famous for his comedies, Molière’s satires were not afraid of targeting sacred cows, including the Church.   Tartuffe caused such an outrage from religious authorities that it was banned from performance for five years, despite Molière’s close relationship with King Louis XIV. Fortunately, once the ban was lifted, the play has been delighting and entertaining audiences to this very day.


So what is all the fuss about? Tartuffe, played by Coleman Blue Summers, has caused an uproar in Orgon’s (Miguel “Mack” Angel Tapia II) household. Orgon thinks Tartuffe is a nobleman of piety, while everyone else rightly sees he is a hypocritical conman leeching his way into controlling Orgon’s house and fortune.   Can the household convince Orgon of the truth, or will Tartuffe succeed in making his way to bedding Elimire Orgon’s wife (Genevieve Kauper), marrying Mariane Orgon’s daughter (Adriana Rodriguez Burciaga), and owning Orgon’s estate?

The Larking House updates the setting to modern day, and does a good job of making this more than a superficial change.   Key exposition is delivered from a screen. Characters using smartphones to record damning confessions and references to Instagram fit the story. The addition of cursing and modern slang does not overwhelm the more traditional language, and it adds to the comedy.   The one instance where I was taken out of the story was when the sound effects for cell phone ringing were used, but only because it made me think someone’s phone in the audience was ringing, which says more about Apple ringtones than the play.


The cast was uniformly strong across the board. Each performer added a lot of physicality to their respective roles.


The costumes suited the characters. Tartuffe’s costume from the show’s second half was the night’s standout look. His shiny red shirt screamed, “Lounge lizard from hell.” The costuming from Jema Amezola plus hair and makeup design from Adriana Rodriguez Burciaga combined with Summers’s demeanor instantly created a sleaze vibe from the character without a single word being uttered.


The production utilizes the space well. However, there are times when characters block other characters. It was hard to see everything going on, but it did not detract too much from the experience.

The portraits hanging from the back wall were changed to show Tartuffe’s usurping influence, which was a nice touch. The effect reminded me of the effects used at Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion. It was a seemingly simple design change that no one called attention to, but it greatly impacted the stage.

8.3 Overall
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Set & Design7.5
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Good Show! OCR Recommended! April 4 – 13, 2024. 

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