The old saying "you can't judge a book by its cover" has once again proved to me that it is a true old saying.
Two weeks ago I attended the opening night of "A Patriot For Me" at the prestigious Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles. People had to pay $30 if they wanted to sit in the front rows and watch Alan Bates play a depressed gay army officer in the Austro-Hungarian military. The play stunk.
A week later I was once again attending the opening night of a play. This time, I only had to drive as far as Fullerton College and pay a great deal less than $30 to watch a very entertaining production of "Tartuffe." Moliere's classic French comedy had two things going for it:
1) "Tartuffe" has actors who actually give a damn about their performances, thus not making the play a sleep-aid for insomniacs;
2) It doesn't have Alan Bates playing a depressed gay army officer.
Under the direction of Tom Blank, "Tartuffe" made it easy to understand why Moliere wasn't too popular with his fellow wealthy Frenchmen.
"Tartuffe," in short, tells the story of a con man (Joseph Hufferd, superb in the title role) who dupes a wealthy Frenchman, Orgon, into thinking he is a devout and righteous religious man. Orgon is convinced Tartuffe is the man to marry his beautiful daughter, Marianne, who is in love with another man.
Meanwhile, Tartuffe is busy trying to seduce Orgon's wife, Elmire. Everyone except Orgon quickly catches on to Tartuffe's scam and tries to warn Orgon of the religious hypocrite's plan to gain his inheritance.
Backing Hufferd in his role of Tartuffe is a fine cast who seem relatively at ease with their parts, and enjoy their comic roles. Diana Sfakianos more than once steals center stage as Orgon's outspoken maid, Dorine, who is on to Tartuffe's scam from the' very start. Also giving noteworthy performances are Eric Halasz as Cleante, Orgon's foppish brother-in-law, and Andy Pari as Damis.
Susie Geiser and Brian Kojac have more minor roles, but both light up the stage in their brief appearances. Geiser is perfect as Madame Pernelle, the stubborn matron of Orgon's family, and with his hysterical, high-pitched laugh, Kojac is a joy in his role as Marianne's beloved Valere.
"Tartuffe" is probably the best bet for local entertainment this weekend. It's fun, intelligent and, best of all, it's inexpensive. If you were thinking of checking out "A Patriot for Me," don't bother. The ticket you don't buy may go to a grateful insomniac.
Tickets for "Tartuffe" are available at the Campus Theatre box office. Showtimes for tonight and Saturday are 8 p.m., Sunday's performance is at 2:30 p.m. Call 871-8101 for more information