Friday, January 7, 2011

The Misanthrope - Tarragon Theatre

Farce is rarely done well and all modern theatre goers should be wary when a play is advertised as one. It usually means Monty Python-esque ridiculous, as it does here.
The play is presented in verse, with a never ending series of rhyming couplets spoken at great speed written with a heavy use of a thesaurus. I think I have a large vocabulary but no one who sees this play will understand all of the many five dollar words interspersed throughout.
There are no likable characters, the dialogue is rushed and wordy and spoken in rhyme, so it is difficult for the brain to register everything being said. Any effort made to do so is further hindered by long tedious soliloquies on the problems of modern culture or the plight of the middle aged white male.
An interesting gauge of a play's response is to pay attention to the audience.  At the beginning of the play there were great peals of laughter all around, I assume from simple people so enchanted with the notion of a play presented in verse. As time went on and the words got longer and the sentence structure more complex, those laughs died out and were replaced with the intelligentsia, realizing that laughing would show they understood and were in on the joke. By the end of the first act, all the laughter stops, and the only sound is the silence of indifference.

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