17th cen­tury French satire, Andy Jones style

Na­tional Arts Cen­tre set to tour N.L. with Jones’ adap­ta­tion of ‘Tartuffe’

The Western Star - - Close To Home - BY TARA BRAD­BURY SALTWIRE NET­WORK

Satire, re­li­gion, unique turns of phrase — New­found­lan­ders ac­tu­ally have a fair bit in com­mon with Molière’s plays.

Who bet­ter to bring that out than Andy Jones, turn­ing 17th-cen­tury France into pre­Con­fed­er­a­tion New­found­land, pok­ing just the right amount of fun at the grip of the church, and adding in a few “Sweet Je­sus in the gar­dens” to set the scene?

Jones’ adap­ta­tion of Molière’s “Tartuffe” was how Jill Kei­ley opened her first sea­son as the Na­tional Arts Cen­tre’s artis­tic di­rec­tor of English Theatre in 2013, and she’s about to bring the show home for a five-city tour.

Robert Joy will star in the ti­tle role in “Tartuffe” along­side Greg Malone, Lois Brown, Ali­son Wool­ridge and oth­ers, mostly New­found­lan­ders and many of them mem­bers of the orig­i­nal NAC pro­duc­tion.

2013 was Kei­ley’s sec­ond time lead­ing Jones’ ‘Tartuffe,’ hav­ing di­rected it a year ear­lier when it de­buted at Per­chance Theatre at Cupids (then New World Theatre).

“Two hours of in­sanely bril­liant show­man­ship that is witty, cut­ting and fierce,” is how the NAC de­scribes the show. “A blaz­ingly funny ex­plo­ration of re­li­gious hypocrisy with a salty and dis­tinc­tive New­found­land flavour.”

Jones’ ver­sion of “Tartuffe” is a loose trans­la­tion of the orig­i­nal, but ad­heres to the plot: va­grant re­li­gious fraud­ster Tartuffe weasels his way into the home and af­fec­tions of wealthy war hero Or­gon, send­ing mem­bers of Or­gon’s fam­ily up in arms and set­ting off a chain of schemes.

In­ter­est­ing fact: when Molière first pre­sented “Tartuffe,” it caused an up­roar in the Ro­man Catholic church and re­sulted in the Arch­bishop of Paris is­su­ing an edict threat­en­ing ex­com­mu­ni­ca­tion to any­one who saw or read the play.

Jones’ cadence and use of old New­found­land turns of phrase are his trade­mark on page and stage, and they are ef­fec­tive in “Tartuffe.”

“You got more lip than a coal bucket, my dear,” Or­gon says to his daugh­ter, Mar­i­anne, at one point.

With cos­tumes by Marie Sharpe and a set de­signed by Pa­trick Clark - who’s “the best in the coun­try for this kind of theatre,” Kei­ley says - “Tartuffe” will stop at arts and cul­ture cen­tres in St. John’s, Stephenvil­le, Cor­ner Brook, Grand Falls-Wind­sor and Gan­der be­tween Sept. 28 and Oct. 14. A com­plete sched­ule and ticket in­for­ma­tion are avail­able on­line at www.art­sand­cul­ture­cen­tre.com.

The tour will mark the first for NAC English Theatre in al­most 20 years.

“Un­til now, only the NAC Orches­tra has had the op­por­tu­nity to play for New­found­land au­di­ences,” Kei­ley says. “Our au­di­ences re­ally went wild for Andy’s ‘Tartuffe,’ but New­found­lan­ders have a love for our own lan­guage and turn of phrase that is ours alone.

“The very first ver­sion of (Jones’ adap­ta­tion) hap­pened in Cupids a few years ago and I can’t help but note that while main­lan­ders de­lighted in this piece, New­found­lan­ders ac­tu­ally rev­eled in it.”


Andy Jones played the ti­tle role in his adap­ta­tion of “Tartuffe” when the National Arts Cen­tre pre­sented it in 2013. This fall, the Cen­tre will re­mount the play with a New­found­land tour, with Robert Joy tak­ing over the role.

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