|Moliere At The Taper|
LOS ANGELES--Brian Bedford has devoted much of his life to the classics,
especially those written by Moliere. His experience pays off in THE MOLIERE COMEDIES, now running at the Mark Taper Forum through April 7. Bedford has not only directed the two short plays on the bill--THE
SCHOOL FOR HUSBANDS and THE IMAGINARY CUCKOLD--but has acted in them as well, in both cases playing Sganarelle. Bedford was also responsible for choosing the translator, the poet Richard Wilbur, whom he first met 40 years ago when he was doing Acaste in a production of The Misanthrope at APA, directed by Steven Porter.
The proof is on stage
at the Taper. Both of the plays seemed fresh and
In both of these
one-acts, Moliere satirizes male domination of the female, especially
when it comes to wives and daughters. Moliere pokes fun at male condescension
toward the opposite sex, their smug notions of superiority. The more men
try to throw their weight around, the more buffoonish they become, especially
when it comes to sex. In Husbands Sganarelle is the puritannical, aged
guardian of a young girl, Isabelle (Anna Belknap), whom he tries to imprison
in his household to protect her virginity until such time as he can marry
her. In Cuckold Sganarelle (same name, different character) becomes crazed
by the notion that his wife (Patricia Conolly) is cuckolding him.
The production is helped mightily by Ming Cho Lee's set (a plaza overlooked by pretentious houses), Jane Greenwood's flamboyant costumes and Robert Wierzel's dazzling lighting. Kudos to Carol F. Doran too, for her hilarious hair and wig designs.
It's Bedford's night, though, and he makes a personal triumph of it, thanks to his having breathed life into Moliere's 400-year- old text, managing at the same time to deliver performances that each are comic gems.
(Mark Taper Forum,
135 N. Grand Ave. Call 213- 628-2722 or visit