Theatre Review: Nice and sleazy
Wednesday 03 March 1999
THE DRUM THEATRE
PETE LAWSON'S The Impostor is a reworking of Moliere's much-banned Tartuffe, substituting New Labour ducking and diving for the original attack on religious hypocrisy, and transporting the time and place from 17th-century France to present-day Bolton. Lawson's text is "all governments are sleazy", which he promotes by using Moliere's original characters and relentless rhyming. Yes, it is a well-sustained attack on New Labour, the betrayal of transparent whiter-than-white for presentation forged in darkness.
The Impostor is a smart piece of work, clever in conception and execution under Jennie Darnell's direction, with smart, state-of-the-art decoration in Matthew Wright's painfully contemporary-shiny Home Office set. It's also smart enough to be able to update the dialogue to include references to impeachment, Clapham Common and large donations to political parties from self-interested businessmen.
In sticking to the original model, Lawson has lumbered himself with 10 characters, some of whom make only fleeting appearances and seem to confuse and detract from the main strands of the plot. The central character, Tartuffe, bears a strong resemblance to Peter Mandelson, or maybe an amalgam of discredited figures. Ann Widdecombe's famous description of Michael Howard - "There is something of the night about him" - is tossed in just to put us off the scent.
In terms of political satire, The Impostor hits its targets well enough. Yet the attack is hardly savage, more a sorrowful head-shaking over such transgressions from an old and trusted friend. Or maybe it's just an acceptance of the fact that governments have unseen workings as well as the puppet strings that are on view. Acceptance is more dangerous than indignation.
The large cast - for a studio production - perform at a lick. Fred Ridgeway as Orgon, the archetypal northern businessman prepared to put down real brass to become mayor, becomes the more and more perplexed pivot of the farcical proceedings. Dermot Kerrigan's Tartuffe - a hypocrite right down to his underpants, prepared to justify anything unseemly in an insurance salesman's suit - carries off the self-righteous, sunny optimism of the character. In true political farce style he is caught, literally, with his pants down. Elmire, given the task of seducing Tartuffe in order to expose him, is played by Kim Thompson who handles French farce at its trickiest. The ending is from the with-one-bound-Jack-was-free school, but the audience went away happy.
To 6 March (01752 267222)
scienceScientists find the answer to a question that even puzzled Darwin
elephant appealThe first 23 lots in our charity auction have now gone. But there are 22 more still up for grabs
arts + entsThe 'Friends' actor on his new role as campaigner on addiction issues
Geoffrey Macnab: The Wolf of Wall Street's account of white-collar excess is A Rake’s Progress on steroids
scienceThe new development in bio-printing technology could be used in the future to restore lost vision - though years of research still await
architectureThe design collective which has stuck two fingers up at the modernists will call it quits at Venice
... But if you’re one of those poor souls offended by Jennifer Lopez’s choice of leotard, Grace Dent wants you to get a bloody grip
Arts & Ents blogs
Brian Griffin returns: Cartoon dog back from the dead in Family Guy Christmas episode
Matthew Perry: He'll be there for you
Nymphomaniac, film review: 'Despite the surreal sex scenes this is a serious drama'
FAT’s all folks: Architecture’s biggest jokers sign off in style
Shia LaBeouf apologises for plagiarising cartoonist's story for Cannes short film
Exclusive: Young people ‘want UK to stay in Europe’: Four in 10 adults aged 18 to 24 are ‘firmly in favour’ of membership, poll shows
Fox News presenter tells viewers it is a 'fact' that both Jesus and Santa Claus are white
You can STILL be jailed for being a republican, government confirms, and it remains illegal to even 'imagine' overthrowing the Queen
Kiss and yell: Italian protester charged with sexual assault after kissing riot police officer
Fighting back: the woman giving a voice (and 49,999 others) to the victims of sexism - by giving an airing to their horror stories
PM denies two child limit for benefits is part of Tory welfare policy
- 1 Facebook 'self-censorship': study records when you don't post to find more ways to share
- 2 Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
- 3 British prisoner Dr Abbas Khan found dead in Syrian jail days before he was due to be handed over to MP George Galloway
- 4 Vitamin pills are a waste of money, offer no health benefits and could be harmful - study
- 5 Children evacuated from swimming pool after prosthetic leg mistaken for paedophile
- < Previous
- Next >