Thon Man Moliere at the Lyceum Theatre continues a long tradition with this theatre and the comic playwright Moliere’s work, and this new play written by Liz Lochhead is at its heart an affectionate tribute to the life of one of her literary heroes.
This work is written in Scots, and in the hands of a gifted writer like Liz shows what a wonderfully expressive language this can be, and what a genuinely funny language it can also be while at the same time continuing that affection that Scotland has for the work of Moliere.
Jimmy Chisholm (Moliere) and Siobhan Redmond (Madeleine Bejart) guide with great skill and comedy timing a gifted cast through this classic light comedy farce that tells the tale of Moliere’s life, his theatre company, his loves, marriage and his extreme highs and lows in life. If the man himself had imagined a play about a character who instead of becoming an upholsterer to the King, then a lawyer by training, falls in love with an older actress to form a theatre company, marries late in life someone more than young enough to be his daughter (and many thought she was) it would probably have been up there amongst his great works of comedy.
Usually, I am not a big comedy fan, as intended and planned comedy can often be the exact opposite of funny. It takes a skilled writer and performers with great timing and a gentle light touch to do it properly, and here with the help of James Anthony Pearson (Michel Baron), Nicola Roy (Theresa du Parc), Steven McNicoll (Gros-Rene du Parc), Sarah Miele (Menou) and Molly Innes (Toinette) it is done properly and works so well.
As often in any work there is a part that, although not the lead role, seems to get away with stealing some scenes and here that part goes to Molly Innes as Toinette with her “always be truthful approach to life but never mind the consequences of what that truth may be though” attitude.
There is humour here, but also a warmth to the characters. We get as an audience to feel a little bit of how much they care about one another in spite of the at times chaotic lives around them, and it was obvious tonight that this audience had taken these characters into their hearts.
I have to admit to knowing less about Moliere and his works than many in the audience probably know, and that means I probably missed out on some of the more subtle references, but you do not have to be an expert on the subject to enjoy this work at any level as so much of the humour is simply universal and timeless.
If you are not a fan of Moliere and his work, or know little or nothing about him, don’t let this put you off going to see this show because at its heart it is simply a great piece of comedy skilfully using Scots language to its best.
Review by Tom King