Translated by Justin Fleming
Director Lee Lewis
Designer Marg Horwell
Lighting designer Niklas Pajanti
Composer Kelly Ryall
Featuring John Adam, Harriet Dyer, Meyne Wyatt. Andrew Johnston, Alexandra Aldrich, Damien Richardson, Jonathan Elsom and Mark Jones
Heath Ledger Theatre, State Theatre Centre
Until July 14
There hasn’t been a production of the great French dramatist Moliére’s work in Perth since the Georgian Film Actors Studio Theatre presented Don Juan at the 1990 Perth Festival. Edgar Metcalfe’s The Misanthrope at the Hole in the Wall 32 years ago was the last local professional show. That’s far too long to be deprived of one of the kings of comedy.
Fortunately, Bell Shakespeare has departed from its eponymous mainstay to take The School for Wives, Moliére’s satire of pre-nuptual shenanigans, on the road around Australia, and it’s to be admired for its endeavour and the technical quality of its touring productions.
Unfortunately, the production misfires. This is largely because of a translation from the original French verse into something like vernacular Australian English by Justin Fleming that too often sounds like The Sentimental Bloke or, worse, that cringeworthy, milquetoast rap that infects so many attempts to be street-wise these days.
Things lifted dramatically, though, whenever Harriet Dyer’s sweetly determined Agnes was on stage, and the climactic confrontation between her and Arnolde was far and away the most convincing scene in the play. Director Lee Lewis places the piece attractively in 1920s Paris, and designer Marg Horwell and lighting designer Niklas Pajenti support her cleverly with a silent movie-inspired setting that is apt and greatly entertaining. Mark Jones, a dead ringer for the comedian Bill Bailey, also plays upright piano, bells and whistles, and keeps the whole affair nicely in tune throughout.
Link here to the complete review in The West Australian