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Hysterically funny 'Tartuffe'

Moliere’s “Tartuffe” was first performed in 1664 and was initially a very controversial piece; in the modern era, the controversy is no longer an issue, but the comedy remains. The conflict between good and evil is timeless, and when presented with the wittiness “Tartuffe” deserves, the play is specifically suited to our time and any time.

Directed by Fabrice Conte and produced by Oklahoma City Theatre Company, the performances take place in the intimate Cityspace Theatre in the lower level of the Civic Center Music Hall. Conte impeccably directs a highly competent cast of 11 characters. Conte creates a greater impact on the audience indicating the universality of the human condition in all times by mixing the modern and the period in costume and set design. Set designer Ward Kays and costume designer Andy Wallach have created beautiful representations for Conte’s production of “Tartuffe” and the actors play the scenes accordingly.

The role of Tartuffe is expertly played by Dave Pasto. Revealing his character’s diabolical evil with great subtlety, he clearly deceives the master of the house and his mother, who do not see that he is a moocher and a thief while also a permanent and welcome house guest. The head of household is Orgon, perfectly performed by Josh Irick. Elmire, his wife is beautifully played by J. Christine Lanning, who seems ideal for the role. Cleante, brother to Elmire, is performed unaffectedly and honestly by Matt Barger. Roy Samra as Damis, Dana Noel as Mariane and Nicholas Toscani as Valere present the essence of youth with only a hint of today’s rebelliousness, yet their determination is visibly amusing, and delightfully so—even with the threat of heartbreak. The bailiff, M. Loyal, is suitably done by Matthew Tasetano and Flipote/Police Officer are two roles well handled by Michael Spegar.

All of these actors are excellent in their roles, and the mastery of Conte’s direction is apparent. However, there are two actresses not yet mentioned: Anna Holloway and Jessica Carabajal. Madame Pernelle, the mother of Organ who is so taken by Tartuffe, is created in an absolutely outstanding performance by Holloway. Her beautiful costume is complemented by the very period appropriate expressions of dowager power providing an extra bit of nuance and noble notability. Dorine is the very modern maid, who does not hesitate to speak her mind. She is wonderfully revealed by Jessica Carabajal, with crafty little expressions and small asides in addition to her outspoken family retainer persona. Carabajal deserves the accolades of the audience in waves. These two come close to stealing the show, but the professional excellence the remaining cast exhibits makes the show an ensemble treat. The cast, as a whole, is hysterical.

Moliere’s “Tartuffe” plays at the Oklahoma City Theatre Company at Cityspace Theatre in the lower level of the Civic Center Music Hall at 8:00 pm Thursday, Friday and Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2:00pm through February 15, 2015. OKCTC is a resident company of the Civic Center Music Hall located at 201 N. Walker Avenue in downtown Oklahoma City. For tickets call 405-297-2264 or visit online at

Elizabeth Hurd

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