# of characters:
14 (7 w / 7 m)
Approx. 1 hour 15 minutes
Minimal (Two chairs, wooden swords, enema syringes, clear wine carafe for urine sample, wine bottle for Scapin, pool noodle)
As minimally or exaggeratedly 17th-century as desired (wigs* caps, black robes for doctor and apothecary disguises, doctor's bonnets, skirts, vests)
*See wigs page for information about making cheap but durable period wigs out of muslin and felt.
Left to right: Fred Perry (Cléante), Katherine Wyly Mille (Frosine), Nadège Keller (Toinette) and Mathieu Lhoste-Clos (Scapin) in 2015 Columbia AF production of Molière 2.0. Photo by Jeff Persels
Act One. Hot-tempered theatrical impresario Jean-Baptiste struggles to get the the day’s performance started, in which endeavor he is alternately helped and hindered by his production team: mistress, muse (and ghostwriter) Madeleine, penny-pinching manager Monsieur Fauchet, and persnickety prompter Armande. Once finally off and running, the tale is a familiar one. Social-climbing bourgeois Géronte and Frosine plot to marry off their son Cléante and daughter Angélique to aging but rich and titled nobles, the Marquise de Mirepoix and the Vicomte de Villebrequin. Cléante and Angélique are, naturally, in love with the younger but poorer Marianne and Valère. Together, the four devise an elaborate stratagem to thwart the parents’ scheme. Cléante and Angélique pretend to fall ill and lose their voices, forcing medical intervention to delay the wedding plans. Valère’s valet Scapin and Marianne’s maidservant Toinette disguise themselves as physicians to trick Géronte and Frosine into sending their children away from their house (and surveillance) to convalesce in a garden pavilion. Valère and Marianne, disguised as apothecaries, hasten to said pavilion, ostensibly to administer enemas, as per time-honored 17th-century practice, but in reality to plight their troth and elope.
Act Two. Jean-Baptiste and Madeleine suffer the wrath of an increasingly tightfisted Monsieur Fauchet, whom they nonetheless trick into thinking the troupe has received a handsome sum from a generous donor. The play can thus continue and conclude. The four lovers, united in the garden pavilion as planned, are prematurely interrupted by Géronte and Frosine, who lose all patience with their malingering children and plan to force the marriages that very evening. Drs. Diafoirus and Diafoirus (Scapin and Toinette) return to salvage the situation but are unmasked by the furious parents and tied up to await justice. The four lovers take advantage of the confusion to make their escape. At this inopportune moment, the Vicomte de Villebrequin turns up, not, as Géronte had hoped, to marry Angélique, but rather to call off the wedding because he cannot forget his late wife, Chloé, who drowned herself and their two children in despair years before, after he had left to renew his fortunes abroad. Before Géronte and Frosine can reconcile themselves to this financial blow, the Marquise de Mirepoix arrives to wed Cléante. She faints dead away, however, when she recognizes the Vicomte as her long-lost husband, Anselme, but recovers sufficiently to tell her tale of woe: she did not drown but was instead kidnapped by pirates and separated from the children, whose fate she knows not. Mention of a locket bearing Anselme’s portrait leads to Toinette’s discovery that she is the couple’s long-lost daughter Chloris, which in turn leads to the discovery of a ring proving that Scapin is their long-lost son, Damis. The joyfully, if improbably reunited family departs to celebrate, leaving Géronte and Frosine to rue their financial loss. Happily, their penitent children, Angélique & Cléante return to reveal their beloved Valère & Marianne have each come into money, so all’s well that ends well. Not so, alas, for Jean-Baptiste and his troupe: Monsieur Fauchet has discovered the truth, and his tirade leads to a cacophonous and ignominious conclusion to the performance.
Molière 2.0 is an original artisanal distillation of many of Molière’s best-known plays, including,
With the exception of the frame story, the occasional aristocratic couplet, and a nod here and there to Racine, Boileau and Corneille (Thomas, that is) the dialogue is 100% Molière. Molière 2.0 was created specifically for and by the 2015 Alliance Française of Columbia theatre troupe and premiered at the Columbia Museum of Art on March 6.
and in verse: