Thon Man Moliere
Comic genius, Moliere, has his colourful and chaotic life brought to the Lyceum stage in Liz Lochhead’s comical and lovingly written new play
Inspired by Mikhail Bulgakov’s 1932 book The Life of Monsieur de Moliere, Thon Man Moliere or ‘Whit got him intae aw that bother…’, is a product of Liz Lochhead’s long love affair with the great French writer. Having previously written a Scots’ version of Tartuffe and Misanthrope (both for the Royal Lyceum) to much critical acclaim, this biographical romp, in the hands of director Tony Cownie and a stellar cast, is a colourful, high energy production that, though light on philosophy, is a fitting tribute to a gloriously funny man.
Jean-Baptiste Poquein de Moliere writes brilliant plays, but can’t seem to keep himself out of trouble. Threatened with prison, in conflict with church and state and, worst of all, in love with someone young enough to be his daughter, he seems unable to keep the comic drama on the stage. His life is, perhaps, a story so obscene and so beyond the imagination that perhaps he himself, the great Moliere, could never have come up with it.
Whilst Neil Murray’s set is gravely grey and white, there is nothing cold or dull about this marvellous production at Edinburgh’s Royal Lyceum Theatre, which is an assault on the senses from the very start. The characters are bright and bouncing, matched only by the outlandish costumes and Lochhead’s exciting and playful use of Scots. The delicious words are delivered with breathless rhythm by an outstanding cast who seem as in love with the protagonist as the author. Jimmy Chisholm is well cast as the charismatic trouble maker, but it is Molly Innes as Toinette who steals the show, having the majority of the best lines and her own catchphrase .Well, I’m not gonnae say it…but'.
Fast, furious and gloriously human, Thon Man Moliere is a delightful return to comedy after the Lyceum’s previous serious outing, The Iliad. As one of Moliere’s actresses says on referring to Moliere’s ill-conceived attempt at tragedy, “there wasnae a dry seat in the hoose”. And indeed there wasnae.