Thon Man Molière Review by Eilidh McSherry
“The audience pished themselves, there wasn’t a dry seat in the house.”
Liz Lochhead’s own words sum up this production better than I ever could. In all truth it was hilarious, properly funny, with the kind of quick-witted, farcical humour that can only by present in Scots, despite the characters and story being French. This marriage worked surprisingly well, the down-to-earth, if somewhat dramatic natures of both nations were played off each other to great effect in this fantastic piece. Everything that was a part of the “theatre within the theatre” too reflected this, a terrific amount of energy and humour left the audience howling. Every character was cleverly written and portrayed very well, particularly Toinette (Molly Innes) whose dry humour and brutal honesty brought truth to the production, as well as the down-to-earth Scottish wit. The characters of Menou (Sarah Miele), and Michel Baron (James Anthony Pearson) also deserve a mention. Menou’s innocence (and loss of such) is what transforms this production from simply a lighthearted comedy into something with far
more meaning, and the transformation in Michel Baron was also fascinating to watch. Sadly at times, the tone of Madame Bejart’s (Siobhan Redmond’s) character did appear to be slightly discordant with that of the production as a whole. Her sad, honest nature was very naturalistic in comparison with the exaggerated flaws of the other characters and this left a few sharp swings in mood within the production. The contrast between the simple sets and flamboyant costumes, were more balanced in their mix of serious reality and theatrical exaggeration, the colours mesmerising and the design utterly perfect. The muted shades and simple design of the set contrasted entirely with the vibrant pinks, yellows and greens that made up the period dress of the actors. This production made you feel like part of the show in a way that was almost addictive, the staggering dramatic irony, general fourth wall breaks and specific audience addresses were almost akin to those in a pantomime, and made you want to get involved, to be part of this motley crew of actors, tied up in the drama and madness that so often comes with life in the theatre. As is often said, truth is stranger than fiction, and Liz Lochhead here crafts a fabulously ludicrous story that is just as incredibly bizarre as Molière’s life itself, and a perfect ending to the Lyceum’s 50th anniversary season.
Thon Man Molière is playing at the Lyceum until the 11th of June, and further details can be found at here.