Tartuffe - Birmingham Rep Review

Tartuffe - Birmingham Rep Review


Posted 2022-10-19 by dpmfollow

Fri 14 Oct 2022 - Sat 05 Nov 2022

This Royal Shakespeare Company's modern adaptation of Molière's Tartuffe was just days away from being staged at the Birmingham Rep when Covid and lockdown hit in 2020 so it is great to see it finally before city audiences.

Although created and originally staged in Stratford-upon-Avon, the show is adapted by Anil Gupta and Richard Pinto to be set within a Pakistani Muslim family in Birmingham's Sparkbrook and sits very much in the heart of the city.

When father Imran Pervaiz meets the apparently holy man Tartuffe at the local mosque, Imran is captivated by the man's religious fervour and invites him to stay. But, like the proverbial cuckoo in the nest, Tartuffe inveigles his way into the family to meet his own ends. And, while other members of the family can see through Tartuffe's hypocrisy, Imran falls increasingly under his spell.

Directed by Birmingham Rep associate director Iqbal Khan, who was artistic director of the 2022 Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony, the production is rich with cultural references to the city – from the in-jokes about rivalry between Sparkbrook and Small Heath through to the numerous gentle pokes at Brummies.

And while there is a great deal of discussion about the Koran and its interpretations, the story is easily accessible to audience members from any cultural or religious background – we can all recognise when someone's words and actions diverge. Pinto and Gupta have also ensured the show is bang up-to-date in pointing out hypocrisies in the wider context with numerous references to politicians, the cost of living crisis and Brexit.

The production brings together both biting satire and ridiculous farce so that one moment we are gasping at the sheer dishonest audacity of Tartuffe and the next we see him leaping around in his leopard-print underpants attempting an act of seduction while unable to get out of his skinny jeans.

There are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments but the production also features a thoughtfully written script that addresses a range of issues such as family dynamics and the power of the father figure, male to female relationships and the role of religion in inspiring both good and, when religion is misused, evil actions.

Returning to the role of Tartuffe, Asif Khan is the chameleon who can be pious with Imran, lecherous with Imran's wife and rude to the younger members of the family. But he is very much the viper when he is threatened, turning on those who have trusted him. Simon Nagra also returns to the role of Imran, who urges his family to become 'good Muslims' while treating them all diabolically.

One of the major changes made by Pinto and Gupta to Molière's text is to hugely develop the role of Darina, the family cleaner, so that she becomes both a Greek chorus commenting on the action taking place around her and a link between the family and the audience. With skimpy clothes, spiky hair and a love of rock music, Olga Fedori's Darina is unflinching in her forthrightness, seeing through Tartuffe and starkly telling the family home truths about their own self-deceptions.

The sets by Bretta Gerecke take us into the home of the nouveau riche with lots of gilt-edged furniture and fancy gadgets while Richard Howell's neon tube lighting and Sarah Sayeed's rock and rap-inspired soundtrack are bold, brash and full of energy.

The production, which is made in partnership with The Rep, revives a comedy classic and gives it a different guise by taking Molière's keen eye for observing the weaknesses of human nature and his razor-sharp wit and giving it a very current telling.

Playing Birmingham Rep until 5 November, see www.birmingham-rep.co.uk for ticket details.

#theatre -reviews
!date 14/10/2022 -- 05/11/2022
70782 - 2023-01-26 01:49:20


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