Huntington’s Hilarious ‘Tartuffe’ Keeps Classic Relevant

 

By Mike Hoban

 

‘Tartuffe’ – Written by Molière, Translated by Ranjit Bolt, Directed by Peter DuBois; Scenic Design, Alexander Dodge; Costume Design, Anita Yavich; Lighting Design, Christopher Akerlind; Sound Design, Ben Emerson; Choreographer, Daniel Pelzig; Original Music, Peter Golub. Presented by the Huntington Theatre Company at the Avenue of the Arts/Huntington Theatre, 264 Huntington Ave., Boston, through December 10

 

As someone who did not grow up reading the classics, and came into the theater later in life, I must admit that I don’t usually share the same sense of glee as some of my counterparts when it comes to reviewing plays written before the 19th century. The archaic language and rhythmic structure often make it difficult for the untrained ear to follow, and by the time I catch on, the first act is usually half over. Such is not the case with Tartuffe, the wickedly funny 1664 comedy by Molière now being staged at the Huntington. Powered by a wonderfully oily performance by Brett Gelman in the title role, Tartuffe is as accessible as any 20th century work, and a howl to boot.

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Huntington’s ‘Ripcord’ Delivers Laughs Alongside Odd Couple’s Darker Side

 

by Mike Hoban

 

‘Ripcord’ – Written by David Lindsay-Abaire. Directed by Jessica Stone. Scenic Design by Tobin Ost; Costume Design by Gabriel Berry; Lighting Design by David J. Weiner; Sound Design and Composition by Mark Bennett; Projection Design by Lucy Mackinnon. Presented by the Huntington Theatre Company at the Calderwood Pavilion, Boston Center for the Arts, 527 Tremont St. Boston through July 2

 

There probably aren’t many plays – even comedies – that could include a scene as implausible as having a septuagenarian drugged, kidnapped, and tricked into jumping out of an airplane without straining its credibility to the point of snapping, but David Lindsay-Abaire manages to not only pull it off but make it convincing in his very funny and ultimately touching Ripcord, now running at the Huntington Theatre through July 2. That scene is just one of the many horrors that two female roommates inflict upon one another to great comic effect as they each try to win the bet to settle a turf battle set in an assisted living facility.

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Huntington’s Dark Comedy “Topdog/Underdog” Examines Life as Rigged Game

 

by Mike Hoban

 

‘Topdog/Underdog’ – Written by Suzan-Lori Parks; Directed by Billy Porter; Scenic and Costume Design by Clint Ramos; Lighting Design by Driscoll Otto; Sound Design by Leon Rothenberg. Presented by The Huntington Theatre Company, 264 Huntington Ave, Boston through April 9.

 

In “Topdog/Underdog” the Pulitzer Prize-winning tragicomic drama now being staged by the Huntington Theatre, playwright Suzan-Lori Parks gives us a front row seat into the lives of two damaged brothers alternately chasing/escaping a warped version of the American dream – one that is exclusively reserved for those on the lower rungs of society’s ladder. The vehicle for that dream happens to be “Three-card Monte”, a sucker’s game played by street hustlers in large American cities, but the allure of the fast-money-for-little-work scheme could be applied to any number of similar cons (drug-dealing, prostitution) embraced by those growing up in economically-distressed urban environments. And while the play focuses solely on the interplay between the troubled pair in this intense two-hander, the parents who abandoned them, as well as the love interest of one of the men, loom as large players in this raw and explosive work.

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