The LXX recently had the opportunity of going to Stratford to watch ‘Tartuffe’ at the Royal Shakespeare Company – a modernised version of Molière’s original satirical play. Written by Emmy-Award winning writers, Anil Gupta and Richard Pinto. This new take on the original, masterful farce follows a Pakistani Muslim family infiltrated by the baneful character of the eponymous Tartuffe. The setting of Molière’s theatrical masterpiece has been updated from 17th Century France to contemporary Birmingham, allowing modern-day issues such as immigration to be targeted, whilst introducing comedy through devices such as ‘rap battles’ making the play highly accessible to a modern audience.
The play first introduced us to the updated version of the perky servant, Darina the confident, upbeat Bosnian cleaner, who is seen to be dancing to loud, energetic music, a tool that foreshadowed the dynamic nature of the entire performance to follow. The set used was vibrant and colourful, indulging the comedic and light-hearted tone of the play.
The family the play was based around were largely dressed in Western 21st century outfits except for the Grandmother, Dadima Pervaiz, who in Pakistani dress, was a key character, delivering sharp one-liners, regarding her highly traditional morals and values. They were exceptionally timed, especially in the opening scene, to a humorous effect. Tartuffe, meanwhile immediately brought a comedic value to the play by being the complete opposite character to what was expected due to his close friend Imran’s initial appraisal. This added frustration for the audience– the only ones who could see Tartuffe’s genuine, villainous, hypocritical nature, which was being lavishly praised by so many on stage, while being brought to life by the superb Asif Khan.
The play was made up of numerous highly funny scenes, including hilarious arguments. These had an ingenious, strong touch of realism whereby the actors were able to portray how ridiculous petty, some conflict actually is; this mockery oozed with comedic value and perfectly summed up the comical everyday situations in 21st Century life, while contrasting the more sincere moments of the performance, thus enabling them to be even more heartfelt and emotional, amidst the satiric nature of the play.
This exceptionally funny and topical comedy’s fast pace, introduced the audience to an array of current issues such as Brexit, victim-shaming, and religious hypocrisy. The play was a fast-paced journey throughout and ended in an inestimable manner with Darina’s most memorable one-liner, ending the show with a perfectly amusing finish. Overall, a range of brilliant Brummie accents, a focus on timeless yet contemporary problems, tied in with a witty sense humour, led to a highly entertaining comedy and an evening very well spent.