CHRISTOPHER SMITH Sewell Barn Theatre, Norwich


Sewell Barn Theatre, Norwich

Jane Burke and Robert Little breathe fresh air into their production of Moliere's classic comedy by setting it in the garden of a Paris house. But they are able to remain true to its period, the 1660s, because the themes of hypocrisy and manipulation for the sake of cash and sex are apparently timeless.

Kerry Dabbs plays Orgon, the husband who is infatuated by a religious impostor and who cannot control his wife, his children or himself.

Hen-pecked by his obstinate mother (Rosemary Morgan), Orgon also fails to dominate his daughter (Heidi Kiddle), but in fact she needs Amy Michaels, as her splendidly impertinent maid Dorine, to give her backbone.

We hear a lot of Tartuffe before we see him. Robert Little gives him the body language of Quasimodo and uses his eyes to capture something that might just be mistaken for the religious ecstasy of a 17th century saint.

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Characters come across vividly and situations raise a lot of laughs. Despite sounding a little wooden at first, Christopher Hampton's translation serves the play well.

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