Tartuffe. Oh Tartuffe.
Last night I went to the last show of Silo Theatre’s 2011 season. The boyfriend and I got to sit in some of the best seats in the house – the gods at Q theatre with lighting tech Sean Lynch and production manager Andrew Malmo. It was a bit awkward when the audience turned around to applaud them but all good, all good. This year I have been extremely lucky to attend all of Silo’s shows care of Sean Lynch and Jane Hakaraia, so thank you both so much. All of them have been brilliant.
Tartuffe was somewhat different however. Unlike the other shows of the season, it was light and hilarious, dirty and completely ridiculous. Tartuffe was written originally by Moliere in the 17th century. The gist of the story is that Orgon, the head of the family becomes completely under the influence of Tartuffe, a con man dressed up as a religious savior. The rendition performed by Silo and directed by Shane Bosher is an adaptation by Louise Fox who has set the play on Paratai Drive. Orgon, played by Cameron Rhodes has been hiding papers for Terry Serepisos and Tartuffe (Paolo Rotundo) seems to be attempting to outshine Brian Tamaki as a religious parody. The son, daughter and daughter’s boyfriend played by Tim Carlsen, Sophie Henderson and Nathan Whitaker respectively represent probably some of the worst traits of New Zealand teenagers, whilst Orgon’s wife, Elmire (Theresa Healey) is addicted to her glittery purple leopard skin mini skirt, Pink glitter Jeffrey Campbell Lana Fab’s and Charlotte Dawson home botox kit. Some reason is added to the horror show of absurdity by Edwin Wright’s, Cleante and Mia Blake’s, Dorine but this is quite often shot to pieces by Dorine launching into half Tongan curses and Tavai Fa’savalu’s poodle character plopping a poo into the pool.
Because yes, there is a pool on stage, and not a paddling pool or illusion of a pool, but a fully sunk in 10m lap pool which acts as the focus for the much of the play. The set, designed by John Verryt is focussed around this pool and outdoor area featuring a fantastic white fake fur carpet and fluroscent orange bridge. One of my favorite moments was watching Sophie Henderson attempting to get onto a Lilo as classily as possible whilst wearing an extremely figure hugging swimsuit.
If I’ll be honest I found that Tartuffe took some time to get into, the characters were so huge that it felt like the actors needed to warm up into their place on stage a little, but by half time they were all smoking and it was probably one of the best 45 minutes I’ve ever enjoyed in a theatre – definitely assisted by my jaw either being on the floor in shock or rattling uncontrollably with laughter. The highlight performance wise would have definitely been Mia Blake, as usual she was brilliant and hilarious and even when her jandal broke was able to make it into a part of the wider show. Kudos, kudos big kudos.
An aspect I really don’t know how to feel about though was the use of musical moments throughout the show. Nathan Whitaker’s, Valere is a hip hop hood rat Muslim, rapping most of his pieces with an accompaniment of the sort of swag and low riding pants that are hilariously wrong and often seen at Mission Bay as the sun begins to set. This was great, but there was a moment between Valere and Mariane (Sophie Henderson) speaking the lyrics of Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream which felt like a bit too much.
In terms of the lighting, it flitted between awesome and not quite enough. There’s a scene where Tartuffe is getting his full Brian Tamaki worship on and you just want him to be illuminated but there wasn’t quite enough light and it ended up looking a little muddy. That being said, there was a Cross set into the set out of led tubing, the word Tartuffe in cabaret style lights and Tartuffe’s entry, full of haze and blaring white light as he entered through the ground which shifted the world to not only Paratai Drive but some sick nightmare of discotheque money greedy religion.
All in all Tartuffe was fucking fantastic, as can be well testified to by the boyfriend, but I can see why some of the audience did not look so enthused. It was crude, loud and very young but quite refreshing after the trauma of Silo’s last show – The Only Child. Big ups guys, as usual there was no disappointment just another fantastic night.
Tartuffe runs until Saturday at Q Theatre on Queen St, more info here.