Moliere’s Tartuffe performed by The Pearl Theatre Company on St.Mark’s Place in Manhattan, holds up after 350 years because it displays eternal truths.

Tartuffe is a phony baloney falsely pious evangelist type who insinuates himself into the household of the well-to-do Orgon.  While his wife, brother, son, daughter and most especially the maid see through Tartuffe, Orgon dotes on him and buys his scam hook, line and sinker.

Which is bad enough.  But when he tries to bring the rogue into the fold permanently by giving him his daughter’s hand in marriage, that is too much and the family takes matters into their own hands to prevent such a travesty. 

Robin Leslie Brown is great as the maid, Dorine, who’s outspoken opinions vex Orgon.  But he seems powerless to quiet her, even though he is her employer.

Sean McNall, a fine actor, carries his supporting role as well as he carried Hamlet and his other parts as a regular member of this company.  Bradford Cover is excellent as Tartufffe, as is Rachel Botchan as Elmire, Orgon’s wife, who exposes Tartuffe by allowing him to proceed with her seduction to prove to her husband that he is no good.  Orgon almost lets him get too far which puts Elmire into quite a compromising position.  We almost think she will have to go through with it but Orgon comes to his senses just in time.

Meanwhile Orgon has also given his entire estate to the rascal who promptly attempts to evict him.

Tartuffe plays through April 26.  The Pearl is located on St. Mark’s Place off First Avenue.  I enjoy most of their productions–very professional, mostly Actors Equity–and this is one of the better ones.

The play was banned when first played in 1664 because it hit too close to home for the Parisian social class.

Richard Wilbur’s translation from the French into English verse is brilliant.  Fascinating when such an old work holds up so well.