A 400 year old villain is on the way
Truth will face off against deceit on Leeside next week with the audacious contemporary retelling of a renowned 17th century play.
Fresh from the Abbey Theatre, Molière’s ‘Tartuffe’ will be at Cork Opera House from 9-13 May and stars Cork actors Emma Rose Creaner as Marianne, and Darragh Shannon as the King’s Officer.
In this new version of Molière’s classic dramatic comedy about the villainous and deceptive Tartuffe, Irish writer Frank McGuinness and director Caitríona McLaughlin have applied a contemporary makeover to this widely celebrated and traditionally controversial play.
Tartuffe, a sanctimonious scoundrel who, professing extreme piety, is taken into the household of Orgon, a wealthy man. Under the guise of ministering to the household’s spiritual and moral needs, he almost destroys Orgon's family. Elmire, Orgon's wife, sees through Tartuffe's wicked hypocrisy and exposes him.
In the view of Caitríona McLaughlin, who is the artistic director of the National Theatre, like Tartuffe, and much like it was 400 years ago when the play was originally set, us 21st century humans continue to ostentatiously perform our virtue, doing so today on social media.
“Like the man Tartuffe dupes in the play, Orgon, we are blinded by admiration for those that perform their virtue the most dazzlingly. It’s basically Twitter in periwigs; brutal and hilarious,” says McLaughlin.
She adds: “Molière skewered the hypocrisy and sanctimony of the French court of the sixteenth century with Tartuffe, but he’s actually writing about the same impulses that still drive much of our discourse online today.”
The production stars Ryan Donaldson in the lead role as Tartuffe. A Lisburn man, Donaldson is known for his screen roles in ‘The Huntsman: Winter's War’, ‘Killing Eve’, and ‘Stumbling’. Alongside Donaldson, playing the tormented Orgon, is Irish stage and screen star Frank McCusker, best known for his screen roles in ‘Hunger’, ‘Inside I’m Dancing’, ‘Affair of the Necklace’, and ‘Penny Dreadful’. Elmire, Orgon’s mother, is played by Aislín McGuckan, best known as Dr Liz Merrick in ITV’s ‘Heartbeat’, as well as roles in ‘Outlander’ and hit TV show ‘Normal People’.
Visually, the opulent stage setting and costumes will be a huge draw to this play. The lavish creations designed by multi-award-winning designer Katie Davenport alone will be worth seeing this stage production for such a visual spectacle.
Donegal-born writer Frank McGuinness has written extensively for Irish theatre, both original scripts and translations. His awards include the London Evening Standard Award for most promising playwright for his play ‘Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme’ in 1985, and a Tony Award for his 1997 adaptation of Ibsen's ‘A Doll's House’.
Also born in Donegal, Caitríona McLaughlin studied science at the University of Ulster before moving into theatre. She was Associate Director at the Abbey Theatre from 2017-2020, where her productions included ‘The Great Hunger’ by Patrick Kavanagh, ‘Citysong’ by Dylan Coburn Gray, ‘On Raftery’s Hill’ by Marina Carr and ‘Two Pints’ by Roddy Doyle, which toured widely in Ireland and the USA.
Tickets for McGuinness and McLaughlin’s 2023 version of ‘Tartuffe’ cost from €24.50 and are available now at corkoperahouse.ie.