Review: The Misanthrope

It’s worth going just for the topiary camel!

Wednesday, 27th March 2013, 9:01 am

After all, how many times are you going to get the chance to see a topiary camel?

It was certainly the most dramatic piece of scenery in Roger McGough’s Misanthrope.

The rhyming play, which is based on Molière’s play, Le Misanthrope, is being brought to life by English Touring Theatre and Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse at Cambridge Arts Theatre this week.

With a tongue-in-cheek script by the Liverpudlian poet, the text was artfully written in rhyme, with hilarious consequences.

The tale is set in Molière’s 17th century world but with a twist – the upper classes prove their good breeding by constantly speaking in rhyme.

All except the lead, Alceste, who decides to defy this social pretentiousness and speak in plain prose, although with frequent slips into rhyme through force of habit.

Meanwhile his (lower classed) servant tries desperately and fails to speak with the required rhyme – with some exceedingly comical results.

Alceste is in love with the fickle and spiteful Célimène, who plays several men off against each other, speaking ill of each when he is out of earshot.

Desperate rivalry ensues with the straight talking (often too straight talking for comfort) Alceste competing against his smooth talking but shallow and girlish adversaries.

The play is laugh-out-loud funny throughout, not just with the words themselves but also through the gestures and superb timing.

Roger McGough previously adapted Molière’s Tartuffe and The Hypochondriac in the same poetical style but The Misanthrope stands alone well.

It is the perfect lighthearted end to an evening.

The Misanthrope continues at Cambridge Arts Theatre until Saturday (March 30). Performances are at 7.45pm each evening and at 2.30pm on Thursday and Saturday.

Tickets cost from £15 to £27 plus a £2.50 booking fee. Call the box office on 01223 503333 to book yours. You can also book online at https://cambridgeartstheatre.purchase-tickets-online.co.uk