Saturday, October 2, 2010


The Learned Ladies
By Joe Testolin

An outstanding cast made Moliere's "The Learned Ladies" an evening of fun and entertainment at Wells Theater this weekend. The Monmouth College Crimson Masque preformed this 17th century French classic to enthusiastic audiences. This 2010 take on Molière's 17th-century play The Learned Ladies was a smart and sharp rendition of the classic and flowed as breezily as music.

This version of The Learned Ladies was translated into English verse by Richard Wilbur and was directed by Janeve West. The entire work is performed in rhymed couplets, yet the rhyme doesn't intrude. In fact, it is so subtle that it would be possible to hear the entire play without being certain that is was rhymed. But still the flow and pacing of the play are enriched by its presence.

Moliere's play concerns a middle class Frenchman, Chrysale (played by Nick Dadds), who has a wife and two daughters. His wife (Ariel Guerrero), his sister (Ivy Bekker), and his older daughter (Emily Frazer) have fallen under the spell of a charlatan named Trissotin (Mike Carioto), who plans to use their money to build his academy for women. Trissotin also aspires to marry the younger daughter and thereby acquire a lovely and rich wife. Henriette (Mary Bohlander), the younger daughter, has her own marriage plans. She loves the poor but handsome Clitandre (Austin Wearsch), who earlier courted her sister without success. The central conflict of the play concerns the husband's sponsorship of one candidate for bridegroom while the wife supports the other.

This rendition of The Learned Ladies by Moliere provided a comical and insightful way to describe “how we show our knowledge” as stated by director Janeve West. This play is set in the year 1672, so it includes a lot of older English which is hard to understand for our time, but the way it is used allows the language of the play to flow and almost have a rhyme to each verse.

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