Theatre review: Tartuffe, Oran Mor, Glasgow

PATRIARCHY, religious hypocrisy, and the desperate need for women to work together against the madness sometimes perpetrated by men in power; it’s all there, in Moliere’s 1664 masterpiece Tartuffe, and never brought to the stage with more brilliant irreverence than in Liz Lochhead’s famous 1986 Scots version, bursting with sharp-tongued street wisdom (mainly from the maid Dorine) that cuts straight through the pompous blustering of the master of the house Orgon, and the sly pieties of his overweening house chaplain, the terrible Calvinist hypocrite Tartuffe.

Andy Clarke , Gabriel Quigley, Grant O'Rourke and Nicola Roy in Tartuffe
Andy Clarke , Gabriel Quigley, Grant O'Rourke and Nicola Roy in Tartuffe

Tartuffe, Oran Mor, Glasgow ****

Lochhead’s Tartuffe – in a 55-minute four-handed version first created for a Play, Pie And Pint Classic Cuts season, and directed by superb Lochhead veteran Tony Cownie – therefore makes an ideal opening show for this spring’s celebratory Play, Pie And Pint lunchtime season, marking 15 years and 500 plays since the late and much-loved David MacLennan launched the idea of a new lunchtime play every week, at the then newly-opened Oran Mor on Great Western Road. And with the brilliant Gabriel Quigley as Dorine, and Nicola Roy as lady of the house Elmire, making common cause against the equally hilarious Grant O’Rourke as Orgon and Andy Clark as Tartuffe, Moliere’s timeless comedy never misses a beat, in a version that dispenses with several of Moliere’s key characters, but somehow survives to tell its tale in an instantly recognisable form, and one that Moliere himself might well have relished, for its pace, its flair, and its pure earthy hilarity.