The School for Wives
Translated by Justin Fleming
Directed by Lee Lewis
Presented by Bell Shakespeare Company
Warrnambool Lighthouse Theatre
PERCEPTIVE French poetry with a stroke of Aussie slang was the highlight of Moliere’s The School for Wives at the Warrnambool Lighthouse Theatre on Tuesday night.
One man’s desperation to have a woman match his insecurities with purity and devotion leads Arnolde (John Adam) to have a young girl by the name of Agnes (Harriet Dyer) raised in a convent, sheltered from the outside world.
He hopes she will one day make him an innocent and dutiful wife. However, his plan goes askew when Agnes falls in love with Horace (Meyne Wyatt), the son of Arnolde’s best friend.
Arnolde is driven wild with jealousy and disappointment, but luckily for Agnes, the harder her misguided suitor tries to realise his desires, the further from reality they become.
Justin Fleming proves a talented translator with this piece, breathing a modern and localised meaning into the French classic play, where the sharpness and wit of the text is captured for 21st century audiences.
Melodramatic performances were partnered with the actors’ polished delivery of the language with rhythm and ease – a standout combination that pleased the Lighthouse audience.
A slapstick double act from Alexandra Aldrich and Andrew Johnston as Georgette and Alan received roaring laughs from the crowd – as did Dyer’s “blonde moments” and Adams’ deserved despair.
Director Lee Lewis has teamed with staging mentoree Alan Logan to create a back-to-basics set of scaffolding, a multimedia screen, walls on wheels and little else.
Scene changes and other usually out-of-sight tasks were executed in full view of the audience, which will displease some, but for others only highlight the significance of the language.
There were a few opening night snags, mostly to do with the use of props, but the revealing and quirky nature of the “behind the scenes” work on stage made it less of a distraction.
Mark Jones was central to much of the comedy with his array of instruments left of stage creating the mood throughout the show.
It is exciting to see Bell Shakespeare Company step outside the realm of Shakespeare to deliver Australian audiences other classics in a contemporary interpretation.
A strong understanding of Moliere, consummate performers and the Australian humour we all know and love is sure to see this show delight audiences across the country.
By Kellie Scott, June 27, 2012.
By Thor Bjorn Krebs
Translated by David Duchin
Directed by Kat Henry