The Internet Theater Magazine of Reviews, Features, Annotated Listings







Etcetera and
Short Term Listings


NYC Restaurants


New Jersey







Free Updates
Writing for Us

A CurtainUp New Jersey Review
The Misanthrope

I expect you to be sincere and as an honourable man never to utter a single word that you don't really mean. — Alceste.

John Patrick Hayden and Elizabeth A. Davis in The Misanthrope.
(Photo: Gerry Goodstein )
In her welcoming speech on June 4, Shakespeare Theater of New Jersey's artistic director Bonnie J. Monte pointed out that exactly 345 years to the day Moliere's The Misanthrope had its premiere at the Theatre du Palais-Royal in Paris. As the director of this bitterly comic verse masterpiece, Monte has auspiciously and gratifyingly remained faithful to the era in which it was conceived. And to get right to the point, Monte has purposefully used the acclaimed translation by Richard Wilbur to support a visually stunning and impeccably acted production.

Although I have had the opportunity this season to see two vastly different productions in New York, a traditional one by the Pearl Theatre Company and another one at the Classic Stage Company that was more freely adapted with verse by David Ives entitled School for Lies, I have to submit my complete surrender to this flawlessly directed, brilliantly articulated and lavishly designed production.

Prior to opening night, the thought of seeing yet another Misanthrope understandably did not fill me with anticipation or even expectation. In this production, the eyes are treated immediately to silvery blue decor of Celimene's pristine salon, as handsomely designed by Adam Miecielica. Although the appearance of glittering chandeliers is generally presumed as obligatory, it is the curved grand staircase that becomes the focal point of the action and is routinely used to great effect for entrances and exits. More importantly, our ears are treated to Wilbur's translation, one that is joyfully renewed by the excellence and exuberance of the actors.

John Patrick Hayden is making a splendid impression in his STNJ debut as the anti-social Alceste, who feels that it is his mission to remedy all the deceit and hypocrisy that he sees around him. Far removed from any hint that he subscribes to the affectations of the 17th century aristocracy, Hayden affects a disarmingly brusque countenance and a rousing voice as the non-conforming incorrigible who disdains and disapproves of every one and everything. Although Alceste must remain in a state of perpetual emotional and physical anguish throughout the play, Hayden is quite funny clutching at his spleen and most endearing as he slyly makes us privy to his mission. Hayden deploys Alceste's anti-social and irrational behavior with such misguided resolve that he actually makes us feel tenderly toward him and his self-righteous principles.

The Misanthrope is correctly considered Moliere's most mature and realistic farce and stands alongside Tartuffe as his supreme achievement. It is also filled with bright, often hilarious moments. Alceste's inflexibility makes him not only a general nuisance to society, but also a real problem to his friends. Jon Barker is a constant source of unexpected responses and disarming sincerity as Aleceste's well-meaning and worldly wise best friend Philinte.

Elizabeth A. Davis never let her delicate beauty compromise her gift for being subtly and subversively droll, particularly in her deliciously bitchy encounter with her older friend and rival Arsinoe, as played with comically coquettish bliss by Louisa Braden Johnson. She expresses more with one facial expression, and she has quite a treasure trove of them, than an entire page of verses, and leads the laugh parade.

Marcus Dean Fuller never missed an opportunity to underline the pomposity of the poet/poseur Oronte. Kersti Bryan's was consummately sincere and lovely to look as Eliante, who can't quite figure out with whom she is in love.

Roger Casey and Matt Bradford Sullivan were delightfully insufferable as Acaste and Clitandre, the self-enamored Marquises. Given a play that calls for posing and posturing in haute couture, costume designer Paul H. Canada deserves kudos for the sumptuous gowns worn by the women. But it is Monte's direction that has to be most highly praised for gloriously reaffirming the timeless joys and sorrows of The Misanthrope.

The Misanthrope
By Jean-Baptiste Moliere (translated into English verse by Richard Wilbur) Directed by Bonnie J. Monte

Cast: John Patrick hayden (Alceste), Jon Barker (Philinte), Einar Gunn (Basque), Marcus Dean Fuller (Oronte), Elizabeth A. Davis (Celimene), Kersti Bryan (Eliante), Roger Casey (Acaste), Matt Bradford Sullivan (Clitandre), Louisa Braden Johnson (Arsinoe), David Joseph Regelmann (Guard/Dubois).
Set Designer: Adam Miecielica
Costume Designer: Paul H. Canada
Lighting Designer: Tony Galaska
Running Time: 2 hours 30 minutes including intermission
The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, 36 Madison Avenue, Madison, NJ (located on the campus of Drew University)
(973) 408 - 5600
Tickets $40.00 to $55.00
Performances Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m., Thursdays and Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 2 and 8 p.m., and Sundays at 2 and 7:30 p.m.
Opened 06/4/11
Ends 06/26/11
Review by Simon Saltzman based on performance 06/4/11
Subscribe to our FREE email updates with a note from editor Elyse Sommer about additions to the website -- with main page hot links to the latest features posted at our numerous locations. To subscribe, E-mail:
put SUBSCRIBE CURTAINUP EMAIL UPDATE in the subject line and your full name and email address in the body of the message -- if you can spare a minute, tell us how you came to CurtainUp and from what part of the country.

Visit Curtainup's Blog Annex
For a feed to reviews and features as they are posted add to your reader
You can also contact us at Curtainup at Facebook

Highlight one of the responses below and click "copy" or"CTRL+C"
  • I agree with the review of The Misanthrope
  • I disagree with the review of The Misanthrope
  • The review made me eager to see The Misanthrope
Click on the address link E-mail:
Paste the highlighted text into the subject line (CTRL+ V):

>Feel free to add detailed comments in the body of the email and state if you'd like your comments published in our letters section. . .also the names and emails of any friends to whom you'd like us to forward a copy of this review.

You can also contact us at Curtainup at Facebook or Curtainup at Twitter and Curtainup's Blog Annex
Slings & Arrows  cover of  new Blu-Ray cover
Slings & Arrows-the complete set

You don't have to be a Shakespeare aficionado to love all 21 episodes of this hilarious and moving Canadian TV series about a fictional Shakespeare Company


©Copyright 2011, Elyse Sommer.
Information from this site may not be reproduced in print or online without specific permission from Ñ