Review: ‘Tartuffe’ at Butler U.

 

Butler University Theatre has a reputation for theatrical surprises. Whether it’s a sand-pit “Hamlet,” a cross-pollination of the Bible and Samuel Beckett, or a deconstruction and rebuilding of five Chekhov plays into one, the unexpected is always part of the mix in Lily Hall.

Well, not always.

In Butler's “Tartuffe,” running through Feb. 26, Moliere’s comedy is given a conventional, competent, modern-dress production that’s enjoyable without ever coming close to surprising. The verse is clear, the plotting unambiguous, and some of the performances charming (particularly Hali Bickford as sassy maid Dorine). But I found myself yearning for the smiles to turn into bigger laughs.

Those smiles are plentiful, though, in this easily accessible production. It’s possible to go too far with Moilere, treating his plays as if he were writing for the Marx Brothers, but director William Fisher and his student company never forget that the prime pleasure of Moliere is in the verse. 

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