Center Stage: ‘The School for Wives’
The School for Wives written by the 17th century, French farcical, comedy genius Moliere, is currently tickling the funny bones of the Ft Myers audiences at the Theatre Conspiracy (and closes this weekend). Before you do anything else phone the Box Office at 936-3239 NOW and catch this wily, wickedly funny farce played to the hilt for laughs and witty double entendres.
This 17th century comedy tells the tale of the conceit of an older man Arnolphe (Scott Thompson), who thinks he can succeed where others have failed. In Arnolphe’s mind husbands all around him are fair game for mockery and should be made fun of for being cuckolded by their wives; they are indeed according to Arnolphe “subjects for satire increasing every day”. To which Arnolphe has the plus perfect plan: he will mold an obedient and faithful wife by taking a child and having her raised as an innocent in a convent. Good idea right, Wrong! Agnes (Brittany Albury) is the prize pupil in Monsieur Arnolphe’s finishing School for Prospective Brides. But Agnes graduates in unexpected ways from being a naive innocent to becoming a coquette, to launching herself as free spirit with a mind of her own. Arnolphe’s young protg startles, confounds and ultimately undoes him in this sparklingly, biting, comedy, which delights in untying the ribbons that bind. This play is one long joke about the futility of man’s selfish calculation of controlling others.
Director Bill Taylor has done a masterful job with wonderful comic pacing, full of witticisms and slap stick that kept the audience entertained throughout the evening. Taylor’s Direction manages to keep Moliere’s lines of dialogue and rhyming verse as fresh today as when it was written from soaring poetry to low comedy humor.
The cast is truly amazing especially Scott Thomson in the tour de force role of Arnolphe. Thompson delivers his multitude of lines and monologues beautifully while interacting with the audience always including them in the legion of asides that show the wit of this multi-faceted character, all the while Thompson’s interactions with the other players is first rate also, as is his amazing physical humor.
Brittany Albury’s red headed innocent Agnes couldn’t be better. She plays her placid spotless convent trained school girl hilariously. Albury get every laugh and has the audience eating out of her hand when she finally stands up to Arnolphe’s bullying ways, this docile creature really comes into her own resenting being brought up simple minded.
Young, handsome Bernard Gomes plays Horace (Agnes’ swain), he is quite simply marvelous as the ardent, smitten lover.
As the wild and crazy servants Pam Erdman(Georgette) and Thomas Mars (Alain) were first rate. Rick Sebastian, Robert Feigenblatt, and John Sacco as the three friends of Arnolphe’s add much to the fun and games of this funny farce.
The wonderfully simple Set Design also by Director Bill Taylor and the incredibly detailed Costumes by Diana Waldier plus the Lighting Design by Tiffany Campbell add much to the enjoyment of this hilarious evening of comedy at the Theatre Conspiracy.
Do not under any circumstances miss School for Wives closing this weekend Phone the Box Office 936-3239 and make your reservations for a fun evening at live theater. Remind ’em when you phone that Marsha sent you.