On Sunday, I spent a lovely fall afternoon at DeSales University watching their fast paced, smart, and hilarious production of Moliere’s THE MISER. I have seen the play done several times, but never with the confidence and assurance that I witnessed at Act 1 in the intimacy of the Shubert black box theater.
THE MISER is a classic farce and director Wayne S. Turney moved his very talented cast around like chess pieces being manipulated by a master. Scenic designer, Will Neurert creates the suggestion of elegance while providing his director with a wide open game board on which to play. The costumes designed by Anna Gerdes capture the period and subtly color code the characters to help the audience follow the high paced movement. Lighting by Elizabeth Elliot and Sound by Theresa Razo aid in creating a period atmosphere on such a spare stage.
These wonderful technical accomplishments would have been in vain if the cast did not add their delightful magic to the game. As the title character, Harpagon, Dane McMichael creates a skillful balance between aged decrepitude and farcical energy. His ability to create a character nearly three times his actual age is staggering and his acumen at farce was shown even greater as he dealt with a well-meaning heckler in the audience and included his intrusion into the festivities. As the pair of lovers who must circumvent Harpagon, Ethan Larsen (Valere), Ashley Strohlein (Elise), Louis Jannuzzi III (Cleante), and Tori Lewis (Mariane) all delineate their characters in such a way that the ending comes as a surprise even though I knew what it would be.
Although all of the remaining cast contributed greatly to the sum total of the play, Catherine T. Nadeau (Frosine) sparkles as she manipulates both the lovers and the curmudgeonly miser for her own gain. David Sly (Jacques) also stands out in what could be a thankless role. His comic timing matches the old man for some of the plays simplest and funniest moments.
Farce is difficult to portray at any level, but the deftness with which this company of players handles it, is a tribute not only to a talented director, but also to these aspiring professionals who obviously worked very diligently at mastering the movement and pace of French farce. THE MISER runs until October 26th. It is a delightful experience for the audience whether or not he or she is familiar with the genre.
adapted by Miles Malleson
Directed by Wayne S. Turney
October 16 – 26, 2014
Act 1 Performing Arts
2755 Station Ave,
Center Valley, PA 18034