Archikulture Digest

The Learned Ladies

The Learned Ladies

By Molière

Directed by Be Boyd

Starring Emily Bramblett, Kristina Dezego, Ryan Garcia, Kraig Kelsey

UCF Conservatory Theatre, Orlando, FL</strong>

If it’s not about sex, money or God, why write about it? Tonight God is off doing something important in Rome, but here in Louis XIV’s Paris sex and money are enough to drive this brilliant production of Molière’s best work. The sex angle revolves around handsome Clitandre (Garcia) who was rejected by the overly intellectual Armande (Julia Gordon), leaving the field clear for simple Henriette (Dezego) to snag the man of her dreams. Daddy’s money is controlled by his imperious wife Philaminte (Kerri Alexander) and the wealth drawn hangers on like the awful poet Trissotin (Kelsey). He has the women enthralled, and he’d be more than happy to marry anyone in site, including dragged-out Belise (Casey Nobel). Philaminte just fired her housemaid Martine (Bramblett) who is coaching Henriette and outmaneuvering Philaminte, who prefers to marry Henriette to Trissotin. Can the day be saved by a clever ruse, or are the women destined to spend their lives with The Wrong Man?

Of course things turn out well; this is a classic French farce. Poking fun at the air bags of the French bourgeoisie and their modern descendants is as funny and timely as ever. The set is one of the best ever fabricated by Scenic Designer Steven Ricker. It’s severely formal and well appointed, allowing the action to flow from the stage up the center aisle stairs. It replicates everything about 1672 except the smell of the plumbing. Everything is just slightly over played under Be Boyd’s direction – Martine appears to be seducing Father Chrysale (Peter Cortelli,) Kelsey’s Trissotin is a wild parody of self importance, and Alexander’s Philaminte nearly had me turning over my check book.

There are always wind bags, and any one slick enough can sell anything to a select audience with “I want to believe” tattooed on their knuckles. Molière was the master of parody, and careful enough to never offend anyone too critical to his food chain or lose his head. This fast paced and highly romantic production feels like a Shakespeare comedy, only funnier. It’s nice to sit through a show that has both high production values and exceptional talent, and spend an evening laughing at someone who skates as close to yourself as you can stand.

For more information on UCF Conservatory Theatre, visit http://www.theatre.ucf.edu


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