While in the San Francisco Bay Area I went to see a performance of Moliere's The Miser at Berkeley Rep. When I'm trying to describe something, I usually say "it's like this only this is different." It wasn't like anything. There was a stage and seats and sets and lighting and costumes. That much was the same.
The performance began with a sheet of translucent plastic covering the stage, and the acting went on behind it. I speculated what it would be like if the whole play was like that, but soon the plastic was removed. The house is collapsing, plaster is falling and the roof leaks very badly. Everyone wears rags, including strangers who arrive from elsewhere. We weren't clear about that part.
It was played with very broad, extremely physical slapstick. I was trying to imagine the auditions for this production. People would read lines and then they would do an extra audition for the slapstick.
Both the miser and his son wish to marry the same young woman. There is a marriage broker with a fondness for true love. And there is a happy ending.
Stephen Epp played the miser himself. Perhaps it is possible to be too cheap, but we may all comfort ourselves in the knowledge that we are not this cheap.
Sarah Agnew as Elise was like gossamer.
David Raimey as Master Jacques was simplly unbelievable--bizarre and mysterious.
There was an atmosphere of overwhelming madness beyond anything I have ever seen on the stage. It was fabulously creative and deeply satisfying, worthy of a Johnny Depp movie. I wasn't going to write about it, and perhaps I still haven't.
SF Opera's 2019-2020 Season
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