School for Wives: Moliere's Social Satire
In Molière's classic comedy, rich merchant Arnolphe is under the delusion that he can create a perfect marriage for himself by creating the perfect wife. He raises a young orphan, Agnes, from infancy, determined to keep her ignorant of everything except what he teaches her himself. His plans, however, are quickly undone by the handsome young Horace who, despite everything Arnolphe tries, takes Agnes's education into his own hands -- especially when it comes to love. Ostensibly, it's a comedy, but as with all Moliere's plays, it's also a biting social satire that speaks in surprising and illuminating ways to the issues of patriarchy, gender, and power currently found in today's "Time's Up" headlines. Enjoy the show and get woke when this City Garage production comes to the Bergamot Station Arts Center in Santa Monica.
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Quotes & Highlights
- “Director Frederique Michel relies on an elegant new translation she’s written in collaboration with producer and designer Charles Duncombe, with a staging that emphasizes the artificiality of Moliere’s comedy with balletic, stylized movement. The result is crowd-pleasing and consistently funny. As Arnolphe, Roberts captures the quintessence of male arrogance, egotism and insensitivity, which makes his growing desperation hilarious and leaves us longing to see him get his comeuppance. Pida brings the asset of real youth (she’s a high school senior) to the ingénue role of Agnes….Jaime Arze and David E. Frank score as a pair of dimwitted servants, and Troy Dunn is smoothly insinuating as Arnolphe’s friend, Chrysalde. The handsome set departs from the play’s 17th century time period; Duncombe chooses instead to set the action in “a time when such things happen,” using a modernistic flavor. Josephine Poinset provides the clever and stylish costumes.” — Stage Raw
- “This comedy, considered by many to be Molire’s greatest, concerns a controlling guardian who has carefully cloistered his decades-younger ward in the hope of transforming her into the “perfect” (and perfectly ignorant) wife who will never stray. Controversial in its day, the premise seems abhorrently timely now. Dedicated avant-gardists Frédérique Michel and Charles Duncombe have devoted their theatrical careers to defiantly alternative theater. Their well-regarded translation of “Wives,” first produced at their theater in 2009, brings an invigoratingly revisionist perspective to Moliére’s classic.” — Los Angeles Times
March 9: Champagne Friday
Complimentary champagne for all attendees.