‘Has a certain frisson’: THE MISANTHROPE – Theatro Technis

In London theatre, Opinion, Plays, Reviews by Michael DavisLeave a Comment

Theatro Technis, London – until 5 May 2018

In his day, French satirist Moliere was both revered and feared by society – loved by the general public, but criticised by moralists and the Catholic Church for challenging the sanctity of institutions. While 17th century France is a million miles away from the world of today, in some ways the same behaviour still exists, what with a general predilection to be economical with the truth.

Presented by Acting Gymnasium and updated for the 21st century, Molière’s The Misanthrope is directed by Gavin McAlinden and transposed to modern day London. As a photographer, Alceste (Sunil Patel) is revered, but as someone bereft of social skills, his ‘Grinch-like’ behaviour is also widely noticed.

Traces of the original play permeate the plot, such as Alceste’s illogical feelings for Célimène (Tawny Fontana) and his inability to reconcile these with her sociable behaviour. Also present is Célimène’s letter, which Arsinoé (Julie Drake) circulates and arouses Alceste’s Othello-esque jealousy.

While the farcical elements keep the moments of physical humour ticking over, there’s a quality to Alceste that’s like Nick Hornby’s David Grant in How To Be Good (‘the angriest man in Holloway’) who isn’t happy unless he has something to be angry about. Living in the capital, there’s always something to be annoyed about, whether it’s delays on public transport or people’s rudeness, etc.

Having said that, Alceste as a Londoner in the Arts makes perfect sense, as being at the centre of the British art world brings with it an in-built sense of ego and suspicion about ‘the nex big thing’. Certainly his attitude towards appraising new work could be said to be the same as an arts critic today, balancing the general desire to praise new projects with the need for the unadulterated truth, which lends the production a certain frisson. In many ways, Alceste here is like Katherine in The Taming of the Shrew – just because others says ‘the moon is the sun’ doesn’t make it so…

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Michael Davis
Michael Davis is a former actor and director. He’s passionate about fringe theatre and publicising shows that don’t necessarily receive mainstream attention. He’s previously reviewed for Female Arts and The Play’s the Thing and now runs his own site, Breaking the Fourth Wall. Michael is interested and knowledgeable about all aspects of the arts. He tweets @Michael30517721.
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Michael Davis on RssMichael Davis on Twitter
Michael Davis
Michael Davis is a former actor and director. He’s passionate about fringe theatre and publicising shows that don’t necessarily receive mainstream attention. He’s previously reviewed for Female Arts and The Play’s the Thing and now runs his own site, Breaking the Fourth Wall. Michael is interested and knowledgeable about all aspects of the arts. He tweets @Michael30517721.

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