Tartuffe ~ Theatre Royal Haymarket

Tartuffe stays at Theatre Royal Haymarket until 28 July 2018 – book your tickets here: Tartuffe Tickets

Guest Reviewer: Dil Marolia 

In 1664 Molière’s classic comedy Tartuffe caused quite a stir.  It’s a satire on how a religious figure resorts to bad behaviour and corruption.  It so enraged the church that it was banned by King Louis XIV and there were even calls for the writer to be burned at the stake.  Five years later it was restaged and became a big hit.  Today, everyone in France is familiar with Molière’s Tartuffe.

Theatre Royal Haymarket’s new production reimagines the classic Molière comedy in the West End’s first ever dual-language production.  The play is adapted by Christopher Hampton and is set in contemporary Los Angeles.  Supported by a cast of English and French actors with impressive CVs this satire is brought to life with funny lines and excellent story telling.

Directed by Gérald Garutti, Tartuffe tells the tale of a French billionaire film tycoon, Orgon who lives in Hollywood and is completely duped by a radical American evangelist and will go to any lengths to keep him in his house.

We meet Orgon’s family who are up in arms because Orgon (played by Sebastian Roché) and his mother (Annick Le Goff) have fallen under the spell of Tartuffe, (Debut by Paul Anderson) a bogus white robed holy man who pretends to be pious.  But Tartuffe’s antics don’t fool the rest of the family.  When Orgon promises his daughter, Mariane’s (played by Olivia Ross) hand in marriage to Tartuffe, even though she’s in love with Valère (played by Jaz Deol), the family devise a plan to expose Tartuffe as the fraud he is.

They scheme to trap him into confessing to Elmire (Orgon’s wife played by Audrey Fleurot) his desire for her but they are interrupted by Orgon’s son, Damis (George Blagden) who’s been eavesdropping on their conversation and jumps out of his hiding place to take a picture on his mobile phone as evidence to show Orgon.  Shocked, at this daring act the conniving holy man turns the situation around by confessing to Orgon and accusing himself of being the worst sinner.  The reverse psychology works and Damis is banished from his home.  Orgon’s so taken in by Tartuffe that he even suggests that he should spend more time with his wife, signing over all his worldly possessions to him.

Elmire now takes matters into her own hands and challenges Orgon to witness an encounter between herself and Tartuffe.  Orgon takes the challenge hoping to prove his wife wrong and hides under the table in the same room.  Only when Tartuffe’s incriminating behaviour is dangerously close to violating Elmire that Orgon reveals himself and orders Tartuffe out of the house.  But the vile guest has no intentions of leaving threatening to expose the contents of the box he’s acquired from Orgon containing incriminating letters written by a friend and orders Orgon to leave his own home.  But the biggest laugh is when Orgon’s problems are resolved by a presidential emissary as ‘the president loves a billionaire’!

The production is subtitled for the opposite language of whichever is being spoken at the time (when an actor is speaks in English, French subtitles appear and vice versa). Although several screens are placed throughout the theatre sometimes it felt like I was missing the action due to reading the subtitles.

The set, designed by Andrew D. Edwards, is contemporary with a perspex box in the middle of the stage which, although in keeping with Hollywood, doesn’t actually do justice to the production.

Excellent performances by Claude Perron as Dorine (Asmelie, Chrysalis) and Audrey Fleurot as Elmire (Spiral, Intouchables).

Paul Anderson’s (Tartuffe) almost laid back approach makes him seem even more sinister when he reveals his darker side.

Vincent Winterhalter as Orgon’s brother Cleanté was brilliant at delivery.

The productions runs until Sunday, 28 July 2018.

Images: Helen Maybanks 



Spotlight On… Casualty Supporting Artist, Paul Anderson AKA Oscar

Paul Anderson is instantly recognisable on screen as a regular extra in Casualty, in fact he’s been with the programme for 30 years and he’s played a variety of characters in the show. Paul was kind enough to chat to me about his experience on the show as well as the 30th anniversary episode.

Hi Paul, thank you for talking to Break A Leg, so how long have you been working as a Supporting Artist on the show?

I’ve been in the programme for 30 years! I started off as a Doctor and then the following years Casualty moved from London to Bristol, completely and I became a Porter and I’ve been a Porter for around 28 to 29 years on the programme. My nickname is Oscar and they call me Oscar on the programme. Outside of the show, I am a dancer and I teach.

What’s it like being a regular part of the Casualty team?

It’s fantastic, I’m a fan, and even though there are weeks when I’m not in it, I’ll still watch it. 4 years ago I was very ill with Pneumonia and I still watched the programme every week, I was in hospital for 7 weeks but I still watched the programme! It’s brilliant, there’s all the great cast members that I work with and some that have come back after a time away and I’m still in touch with most of the cast members that I have worked with. It’s my life, really and now that the studios have moved to Cardiff I still commute, I travel from Bristol, backwards and forwards. We have a lot of fun here, a lot of the guest artists that come in say what a lovely bunch of people we are.

My role as a Supporting Artist involves working with the Assistant Directors who tell us what to do and there’s a bunch of us who are regulars here every week, and we help as much as we can as we know where we can be on the set.

What did you do before Casualty?

Before Casualty I was working in London doing some TV and commercials. I did a bit of Eastenders, The Bill and London’s Burning. When Casualty started I was doing the studio scenes in London and then they moved filming to Bristol, so that’s where I live, now.

Have you been part of the 30th anniversary episode?

Yes, I have, they’ve given me a nice little ‘bit’ in it as well. It’s been fun to shoot. When Charlie gets his 30 years celebration I’m there as well, part of that. It’s an epic episode, there have been train crashes, car crashes and plane crashes over the years, but this is the one!

Have you a favourite episode or a particular highlight?

It’s so hard to choose, one newspaper once quoted that I had done 500 episodes! I have so many favourites and as I watch it every week, too, I think they’re all good. This 30th anniversary episode is going to be something special, though.

 Thanks to Paul for his time, he was a joy to chat to and I shall continue to ensure that I spot him when I tune in!



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