The School for Wives by Molière – AC Productions
Aug 3rd – Aug 15th @ 7.30pm
Arnolphe has an unusual view of women and the institution of marriage. He thinks that the perfect wife is someone who is ignorant of the ways of the world and lacking in education, someone that knows her place and does not fight against his control. For this reason, he aims to marry his young ward Agnès. He found her on the streets and has looked after her for many years, keeping her in isolation in his country residence and without education so that she could be his perfect woman. Now in his early 40s, Arnolphe decides it is time to finally get married, but all is not as it seems with his ideal wife and he is not the only suitor for her hand!
This is a farce written by French playwright Molière, which was first staged in 1662. It is a fast paced tale of love in its various forms and shows how little control men have over their hearts, regardless of their means. The story also deals with society at the time and shows relations between the ruling classes and their underlings. While Molière is a world renowned playwright, his work is rarely staged in Ireland, with Richard Brinsley Sheridan and Oscar Wilde being much more familiar.
All the action takes place in the courtyard of the country residence of Arnolphe. The stage shows the back wall of the house, with various doors and plant life. As with most productions in the New Theatre, it is a simple set with the emphasis on the actors and their words.
While there are interesting ideas and opinions discussed in this production, it is played for laughs and there are many great lines in this tightly written piece. The six cast members make good use of the material and seem to enjoy playing larger than life characters. As you would expect with a farce, it is big and bold and the characters are quite easily recognisable, from the hapless country gents to the wily peasants who wrap their employers around their fingers. This is an interesting adaptation that captures the humour, while leaving the message intact which is still relevant to this day.
Directed and adapted by Peter Reid