Citizens’ Theatre, Glasgow, Wed 23 Apr–Sat 3 May
Take a step back and it’s easy enough to see the vanity and self deception of those around you. A second step back might well reveal them in yourself. It’s this semi-conscious awareness that none of us are quite who we think we are that perhaps lies at the heart of Moliere’s continued adoration in the world of theatre; he’s merciless on his characters, yet somehow gives them a humanity. Perhaps the long tradition of Scottish ‘McMolieres’ tells us that here in Scotland we’re more able to take the hard knocks his humour deals out.
Liz Lochhead, the most recent exponent of the McMoliere, with such work as Miseryguts and Tartuffe finding places in the recent Scottish canon, is certainly aware of this in her latest adaptation for Theatre Babel, Educating Agnes, a version of School For Wives. In it, a middle-aged man brings his young female ward out of her convent and announces his intention of marrying her, with predictably catastrophic consequences.
‘He hasn’t really brought her up to be his wife – he hasn’t thought of it until quite recently,’ Lochhead explains. ‘He doesn’t think he’s doing anything wrong, and in a sense in the time he hasn’t. There are of course some dodgy undercurrents, but he doesn’t see them. The thing about that, though, is Moliere understands people’s motives better than they understand themselves. There’s that moment with Moliere where the self deceptions people make are so understandable – you have these moments where you say, despite the length of time that’s passed, “I know somebody like that”.’ Go along and see others as they may well see you.