CamdenNewJournal

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Review: The Misanthrope, at Camden People’s Theatre

Ambitious interpretation of Molière’s classic deserves to be on a much larger stage in front of a much bigger audience

29 June, 2018 — By Ellen O’Riordan

Fanny Dulin in The Misanthrope. Photo: Anais Le Pape

DAVID Furlong has struck gold with his contemporary and imaginative interpretation of Molière’s classic.

The play is set in a morally challenged newsroom during the current “fake news” climate. It is remarkable how seamlessly Molière’s words relate to the world of Twitter and Trump. Performed in French and English on alternate dates, it is ambitious, with plenty of technical experimentation.

The evening is littered with comical moments that could be deemed ludicrous if the satire was not so painfully accurate. Alceste, played by Furlong himself, despairs for truth amid the bicep curls, protein shakes and an endless stream of selfies. Leo Elso receives howls of laughter as Oronte, a blend of Coldplay hippy and delusional bedroom YouTuber.

Although, as Alceste’s friend Philinte, his role is often secondary, Simeon Oakes’ mastery of every line is exquisite. From discomforting tears to blind rage, he is mesmerising to watch, drawing the eye even when pacing in the background.

The production is let down by the inclusion of a nostalgic smorgasbord of pop hits. With so many media elements already at play, the soundtrack muddles the era and cheapens the production, screaming uncle’s iPod on shuffle.

The relevancy of Furlong’s adaption deserves commendation; with a few style tweaks, he is on to a winner. This play deserves to be on a much larger stage in front of a much bigger audience.

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