Theatre Review : Moliere's The School for Wives by Bell Shakespeare
Bell Shakespeare`s production of Moliere`s The School for Wives takes a novel approach to an old standard comedy.
The premise is an ageing bachelor, successful in all walks of life, who grooms a wife to be stupid from the age of four by placing her in a convent, thinking that this will insure him against a cheating and conniving woman.
Naturally, love is not something that can be planned, so his plan goes spectacularly awry.
The first thing to be noted is the crazy and amusing opening scene that finds two men pals being chauffeured in Biggles-style outfits, with cast members affecting their scarves being blown in the breeze and maintaining the background.
Meantime, the main actors throw themselves side to side in a style reminiscent of Keystone cops, except that they are speaking, and in rhyming verse.
There are some marvellous character actors in this production from the leading role of Arnolphe or Monsieur de la Souche, played by John Adam, to his leading lady, Agnes (Harriet Dyer).
John Adam hardly ever leaves the stage and it is difficult to imagine how he maintains the energy throughout but he manages exceedingly well and it is joy to watch his foppish and snobbish character diminish into full-scale comi-tragedy.
Harriet Dyer had the audience laughing from the moment she walked onstage with her character's awkward movements and apparent childlike enthusiasm.
The servants, Alain (Andrew Johnston) and Georgette (Alexandra Aldrich), deserve special mention for their excellent comic timing and the hilarious physicality of their characters.
This adaptation by Justin Fleming of Moliere's work is very clever, with plenty of well-placed Australianisms to keep the audience in titters.
Lee Lewis's direction is without a hitch, save for the second act perhaps needing some time cut to keep the incredible energy and pace up to the end.
Towards the final curtain, it is hard for the audience to keep up, never mind the actors, who are still galloping through speedy plot twists in rhyme.
The School for Wives at Cairns Civic Theatre was an engaging and delightful production and it made for a very amusing and entertaining night out.
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The Art of Love : The cast of Bell Shakespeare's The School for Wives