Writers: Gaël Octavia (Family), Molière (The Imaginary Cuckhold)
Translators: Katharine Woff and Lucie Tiberghien (Family), Richard Wilbur (The Imaginary Cuckhold)
Director: Lucie Tiberghien
Reviewer: Adrienne Sowers
Bringing together powerhouse acting, compelling directing, and visceral scripts, Molière in the Park’s reading series harkens to centuries past, “hearing” two plays in a single evening. In the lovely Prospect Park Picnic House, with a roaring fireplace and supportive crowd, Gaël Octavia’s Family and Richard Wilbur’s translation of Molière’s The Imaginary Cuckhold are brought to auditory life.
With a stellar cast (Kaliswa Brewer, Lizzy Brooks, Alanna Darby, Lisa Gorlitsky, Nate Miller, Samira Wiley), these two plays resonate easily with audiences. Questions of identity and relationships drive both texts. Despite the many-centuries delta between their creation, the immediacy of their relatability does not waver. The acting is superb, energetic, and engaged – the traps of falling into the singsongy nature of Molière’s meter and rhyme scheme is deftly avoided.
Lucie Tiberghien’s direction drives the texts forward with energy, specificity, and clarity. Each moment lands with impact, while never feeling forced. There is a clear love for, and deep understanding of, these lovely texts. Tiberghien’s love not only for these plays but also for Molière in the Park shines through each moment of the evening.
The aims of Molière in the Park are worthwhile – bringing live theatre to Brooklyn in Brooklyn is tremendously important and impactful. Though not part of this performance, the company’s goal to bring shows to schools is particularly compelling. This is a wonderfully community-based project with high artistic standards and world-class professionals at the helm and on the stage.
The only true drawback to the readings on December 10 was the length of the evening. Due to a late curtain and lengthy intermission, the event lasted just shy of three hours. Particularly it can be a challenge to keep momentum and audience engagement, and the gaps in the evening created a bit of an energetic slump in the house – luckily, the creative team onstage and off carried such verve and talent into the readings that the time int the Picnic House is well-spent.
Reviewed on 10 December 2021