By: Christi Rutledge
The Misanthrope is nothing short of theatrical luxury. A stellar cast, some of the most beautiful set designs and costumes I have ever seen and rich language dripping with wit make the Festival’s production an absolute treat. What I love about this year’s production is that it’s about extremes: extreme hypocrisy, extreme honesty and extreme decadence. If you haven’t yet seen this classic comedy of manners, come for one of its last three performances on the Festival stage!
The incomparable Ben Carlson assumes the role of Alceste, the curmudgeonly social critic. Alceste cannot help but adore Célimène (played by Sara Topham), who is the essence of everything he detests. That is to say, she’s a terrible gossip and a flirt who relishes making her suitors laugh at the expense of their acquaintances. Alceste is determined to change his beloved’s ways – but can he succeed?
If you haven’t seen this production yet, or read the play, stop reading here (unless you’re prepared for a spoiler)! The ending is perhaps what sets The Misanthrope apart: instead of the more traditional conclusion of a marriage between the protagonists, Molière leaves his viewers with a sobering wake-up call after what feels like a great night of partying.
The production doesn’t end in a compromise; the tension between honesty and pretense remains strong right up to Alceste’s last speech. Molière leaves us in a strange state of limbo: we are left to decide for ourselves who is in the right – if anyone. As an audience, we find it hard to know just who to side with.
What were you left feeling at the end of this production? Let us know!
Here’s a taste of what you thought of The Misanthrope