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The Miser: Character dominates comedy

by Victoria Fonseca, staff writer

 

A thematic aura of greed and obsession pervades HPU’s production of The Miser (France, 1668), but it is not dark, depressing, or tragic. Molière’s comedy is saved by its dry wit and animated characters. The play opened March 25 and continues with performances on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays at varying times (see fact box below) through April 24.

 

With 19 performances scheduled, one would hardly believe that in 17th century France, The Miser only ran for four performances. (Well, they did have a bigger theatre.) According to Ryan McKittrick, a playwright quoted on the Web site of the Maine American Repertory Theartre, the play wasn’t popular until after Molière’s death. Since then, McKittrick said, “it has been one of the most frequently performed plays at the Comédie-Française—the national theatre Louis XIV created.”

HPU expects its production to be just as successful, given the creative direction of Associate Professor of Theater Joyce Maltby, a recipient of 15 Hawai‘i State Theatre Council Po‘okela awards for directing and acting.

Mitchell Milan, playing the lead role of Harpagon, the miser, is making his Hawai‘i theatre debut, but he brings years of expertise as an actor, director, producer, and teacher. He creates an outstanding and animated character in a role that demands he be a greedy acquisitive accumulator, sick with worry over the 10,000 crowns he has buried in his garden.

Milan throws his character into a fit when his treasure is stolen, a crime he equates with murder, crying, “They’ve cut my throat! They’ve stolen my money!”

His son Cléante, played by Zachary Bortot, on the other hand, spends lavishly and in a turn of plot, falls in love with Marianne, played by Ariana Griffith, the woman Harpagon wants for himself.

In the meantime, Harpagon’s daughter Elise, played by Jennifer Robideau, is just as enchanted with Valère, Harpagon’s impoverished servant who is trying to gain his employer’s eventual approval of his suit for her. In another ironic plot twist, Valère is faced with a conflict of interest when Harpagon asks his opinion on whether Elise should marry a much older, but very rich, man.

The story, wit, innuendo, and characters move the action along quickly. The talent shines from the stage in a show you won’t want to miss. Student tickets are reasonably priced from $3, with HPU student ID, to $20 general admission. For reservations, call (808) 375-1282.

 

Performance Dates and Times at Hawai‘i
Pacific University’s Windward Campus:

Date Times
Thursday, April 7 7:30 p.m.
Friday, April 8 8 p.m.
Saturday, April 9 8 p.m.
Sunday, April 10 4 p.m.
Thursday, April 14 7:30 p.m.
Friday, April 15 8 p.m.
Saturday, April 16 8 p.m.
Sunday, April 17 4 p.m.
Thursday, April 21 7:30 p.m.
Friday, April 22 8 p.m.
Saturday, April 23 8 p.m.
Sunday, April 24 4 p.m.

 

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