moliere scapin 311.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
‘The Scams of Scapin’
The Khan Theater’s new production of Molière’s The Scams of Scapin,
directed by Udi Ben-Moshe, had last Tuesday’s audience smiling from the
first note of the amusing opening song and didn’t let up for an hour
and a half of nearly nonstop hilarious stage action.
The plot is straightforward and typical to the genre. Two young men,
Octave (Yoav Hyman) and Leandre (Udi Rothschild) fall in love with two
young women, Hyacinthe (Shimrit Lustig) and Zerbinette (Nili Rogel).
However, the youths’ greedy and power-hungry fathers, Argante (Arie
Tcherner) and Geronte (Yehoyachin Friedlander), have different marital
plans for their boys. Enter the crafty servant Scapin (Vitali
Friedland), who agrees to solve things for the lovers with the help of
the assistant Silvestre (Erez Shafrir), while punishing the fathers in
Jean-Baptiste Poquelin’s (better-known as Molière) light farcical
comedy, drawing heavily from the commedia dell’arte tradition,
premiered in 1671 and was considered by some contemporary critics a
step back for the actor and playwright, who had already penned more
“serious” comedies such as The Misanthrope
, but proves that, properly treated, comic elements can always be funny.
An empty stage framed by white parallel walls facing the audience was
the setting for the scenes, which took place indoors and outside. The
many openings between the walls were utilized by the actors for
entrances and exits, at times swift, at times unexpected, with the
lighting changing to help frame and define the place and mood of the
action. Keren Peles’s music provided an upbeat accompaniment for the
dialogue and stage dynamics, reminiscent at times of a silent-movie
The slightly aged Hebrew translation by poet Natan Alterman, as well as
the actors’ graceful and elegant body language, infused the production
with grace and class, even when the comedy was downright slapstick. The
costumes furthered that line with classic suits spiked with punky
touches of sneakers and hairdos for the funkier characters.
Friedland’s sensual and somewhat androgynous Scapin, the pivotal figure
of the show, seemed like a subtle wink to the Roman god Cupid, who had
similar traits and was tasked with bringing lovers together, thus
reinforcing yet another link in the long chain of Western theatrical
tradition from antiquity to modernity.
Tcherner’s delightfully bumbling character perfectly complemented
Friedlander’s ramrod rigidity in depicting two aspects of inflexible
old patrons in the way of young love and paying the price for it.
The Khan repertory theater has proven once again its ability to stage
superb productions of any genre. This play is an opportunity to laugh
through a stylized farce that doesn’t really need words to convey its