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The Misanthrope (Liverpool)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Revenons à nos moutons: in M. McGough’s brilliant partnership with M. Moliere, Messrs Marquises Acaste and Clitandre (George Pott and Leander Deeny) could make a pair of glam rockers have a hissy fit – when they do, it sparks applause from the audience.

Similarly, an eloquent tirade from silly ass Oronte (Daniel Goode), whilst each stumbling cameo from Dubois (Neil Caple), hard working donkey of a manservant, was acknowledged. What with Harvey Virdi’s Arsinoé, a kind of Black Widow, gentle Eliante (Alison Pargeter), who is a bit of a goose, and Zara Temopest-Walters as splendid but bitchy Célimène, it’s a right menagerie.

Plain-speaking poet Alceste is himself stubborn as a mule, oblivious to Philinte’s sensible suggestions (eloquent stalwart, Simon Coates). Colin Tierney accomplishes the difficult feat of making likeable a man who dislikes everybody. He cannot accept that Society draws a very fine line between truth and gossip, charm and sycophancy. Tormented by his passion for Célimène, the path of love, hélas, is no smooth run and has him going round in circles.

Most elegantly staged in her sumptuous home, the interior transforms to garden with topiary and flowerbeds, even a fountain. Plus dear little animated mop of a dog, one of many joyous touches in this delightful production. Above all, it is the dialogue: words are not just played upon but twisted and turned every which way with an infectious relish to impress even the jaded French court.

Purists may complain that Molière would be turning in his grave, but I think you’ll find that’s to climb out and join our Liverpool poet in receiving plaudits for a triple triumph. As the French would say (well, they do here): an evening’s entertainment to jingle your bells.

- Carole Baldock

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