Theatre Review: California Stage's bilingual Molière


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(Sacramento, CA)
Thursday, May 26, 2005

Molière was on top of the world when he premiered “Le Mariage Forcé at the Louvre in 1664. Jean-Baptiste Lully, the leading French composer of his day, wrote this music for the show, and no less than King Louis the XIV joined the cast as a dancer. Ah, but we live in California now, were only a small fraction of the population speaks French. California Stage meets this challenge by staging “Le Mariage Forcé” not once but twice. First, we get the 50-minute play in French, with period costumes. In this scene, a woman explains what sort of life she expects with her new husband. 

(excerpt)

Then, after intermission, we see the entire play a second time, in English, with costumes and accents suggesting Italy in the 1590s. Here’s the same scene.

(soundbite)

This bilingual production is decidedly small-scale, with actors who were tutored in French, and the French version has more than the usual number of hesitations and umms. But the uncommon opportunity to hear Molière in French more than compensates for the glitches – there’s no substitute for the original. “Le Mariage Forcé” plays through June 12 at California Stage. Jeff Hudson, KXJZ News.