Director Amanda Rountree
Paden Burger as Tartuffe
Chance Dean as Cleante
Andrew Elliot as Orgon
Raquel Estevez as Mariane
Kate Lozano as Flipote/Officer
Adam McMorris as Damis
Leah Moore-Burger as Elmire
Scott Rydelski as Valere/M. Loyal
Patricia Scarborough as Madame Pernelle
Stevie Taken as Dorine
Though first performed in 1664, Moliere’s timeless French comedy Tartuffe (or The Imposter) has delighted and even enraged audiences for centuries. With its themes of betrayal, hypocrisy, lust, and loyalty, Tartuffe is a sometimes scathing, sometimes a laugh-out-loud funny indictment of religious hypocrisy and a warning against the dangers of pretense. The reality of false and exploitative preachers was one that Moliere dealt with in a time and country that was controlled as much by the monarchy as by the church, but it is one that has been faced over and over again through the centuries. One more modern guise for this kind of religious charlatan has been the ‘televangelist.’
The term ‘televangelist’ was first popularized in the 1980s—giving name to a phenomenon that had become rampant throughout the world. Preachers, often with no congregation other than their faceless television audiences, began to use the mass media to preach prosperity gospel messages, and extort followers for money for their own aggrandizement. Though not a new phenomenon during the 80s, this form of evangelism became increasingly popular, with stadiums and megachurches filled with devoted followers ready to give their money to line pockets of religious scammers. In the titular character of his comedy, Moliere has crafted the ultimate false holy man, a prescient predecessor to his televangelist counterparts—deceitful, lustful, and greedy, praying out one side of his mouth while spewing lies out the other side. Riverside Community Player’s production of this timeless classic, takes its cues from the decade of big hair, big shoulder pads, and big egos when millions of television viewers were inveigled by the lies of these false prophets and preachers.
In Tartuffe, the wealthy Orgon welcomes the pious Tartuffe into his home, believing him to be so righteous and holy that he cannot make any action without first consulting him. Orgon falls so far under Tartuffe’s sway that he is ready to jeopardize his daughter’s marriage, his own fortune, and even his wife’s honor. Orgon’s friends and family, including his daughter Mariane and her lover Valere, his hot-headed son Damis, his judicious brother-in-law Cleante, his clever wife Elmire, and his sharp-tongued maid Dorine, all conspire to expose Tartuffe for the fraud he is. But not everything goes to plan and so hilarity ensues in this sexy, glam romp.
Tartuffe runs May 24th through June 9th at Riverside Community Players.