May 26, 1995 in Seven

‘The Misanthrope’ May Be Old, But Its Satire, Humor Are Ageless

By Correspondent

Moliere’s plays can be so funny, even silly at times, it’s hard to fathom just how crucial he was to the development of world theater.

In fact, he may be the most influential playwright since Shakespeare. The reason, as the “Oxford Companion to the Theatre” points out, is that Moliere “rescued (French comedy) from the domain of farce and in his hands it became not only a vehicle for social satire, but also for a universally applicable exposure of human folly and pretentiousness.”

Which is why it seems so fitting for modern Hollywood to be the setting for the Interplayers Ensemble’s production of Moliere’s classic, “The Misanthrope,” which opens tonight.

What better place than Hollywood to expose human pretentiousness? And what better time than the present?

Moliere had the over-powdered French salon society in mind when he wrote the play in 1666. But Interplayers production uses English playwright Neil Bartlett’s new translation, in which Alceste (the misanthrope of the title) is a screenwriter who becomes disgusted with the two-faced behavior of the film industry.

As luck would have it, Alceste falls in love with a malicious, backstabbing glamor girl, who represents everything he hates.

The chasm between phony salon society and Hollywood is not so large as you may think.

Nor is the chasm between Moliere, loyal subject of King Louis the XIVth, and today’s audiences. Interplayers has had big success with three previous Moliere plays - “School for Wives” (1983), “Tartuffe” (1986) and “The Miser” (1988). The Spokane Civic Theatre also had a major hit with “Tartuffe” in 1993.

Tony Mason, fresh from his lead role in “Blithe Spirit,” will play the role of Alceste. The other lead, Celimene, will be played by Susan Mansefield, memorable in many previous Interplayers productions. The rest of the cast includes R. Marquam Krantz, Leslie Gray Krantz, Linda Montalvo, Alan Wilkie, Gary Pierce and William Marlowe.

Interplayers’ co-founder Joan Welch is the director.

The show opens tonight and runs Tuesdays through Saturdays through June 17. Curtain times are 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, 7:30 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. There will also be 2 p.m. matinees on Saturday, Wednesday and June 3. Call 455-PLAY for tickets and reservations.

The Interplayers Ensemble is Spokane’s resident professional theater company, at 174 S. Howard in downtown Spokane.

“A Streetcar Named Desire”

Tennessee Williams’ powerful drama, “A Streetcar Named Desire,” opens tonight at The Lake City Playhouse in Coeur d’Alene.

It tells the story of Blanche DuBois, a dreamer and romantic who comes to New Orleans to visit her sister, Stella, and Stella’s brute of a husband, Stanley Kowalski.

It was a sensation on Broadway in 1947, largely due to brilliant performances by Marlon Brando, Jessica Tandy, Kim Hunter and Karl Malden.

The Lake City Playhouse production is directed by Jeffrey Bell. Frank Scala plays Stanley, Jean DeBarbieris plays Blanche, and Beverly Short plays Stella. Other cast members include Bob Brannan, Treece Vahdani, Tom Stratton, Janel Myers, Michelle Aurora, Chad Mitchell, Vince Aurora and Jason Steinbach.

The show opens tonight and runs through June 11. Showtimes are 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. on Sundays.

Tickets are $8, $6 for seniors and students, $5 for children 12 and under. Call (208) 667-1323 for reservations.

The Lake City Playhouse is a community theater at 14th and Garden in Coeur d’Alene.

Early warning

The lineup of one-acts has been announced in the Spokane Civic Theatre’s “Playwrights Forum Festival ‘95” June 15-24.

Out of dozens of entries in this national contest, five were selected for production: “Atlantic Crossing,” by Jeffrey B. Embler of Portland; “Area Code 212,” by James P. Mirrione of New York City; “Breathing in Isis,” by Jacki Putnam of Spokane; “The Last Touchy-Feely Drama on the American Stage,” by Greg Gamble and Lee Howard of Federal Way, Wash.; and “Sacrifices Must Be Made,” (Youth Division), by Klara Bowman and Emily Himmelright of Spokane.

The festival will also feature “Going Home,” a new play by Civic playwright-in-residence Bryan Harnetiaux.

The following fields overflowed: SUPCAT = THEATER REVIEW, COLUMN - On Stage

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