JOYCE MCMILLAN on UN PETIT MOLIERE at the Tom Fleming Centre, Stewart’s Melville College, Edinburgh, for The Scotsman, 12.4.13.
AT THE HEART of a Moliere comedy, there’s always one indispensable figure: the buffoon, the pompous old ass who deserves to have the wool pulled over his eyes. And if there is one theatre company whose members might have been born to understand that impulse to mock the pretentious, it’s Lung Ha’s of Edinburgh, with its 20-year track-record of enabling adults with learning difficulties to take part in full-scale, professionally-crafted theatre.
Lung Ha’s director Maria Oller has therefore made an inspired choice, in commissioning brilliant young playwright Morna Pearson to adapt two short Moliere plays for the company. On a stage beautifully designed by Karen Tennant and lit by Jeanine Davies – like a 17th century toy theatre, ablaze with red and gold paint – the 20-strong company make light work of the first play, The Seductive Countess, featuring a fine trio of performances from Stephanie Henderson as the arrogant Countess, Teri Robb as her smart young ward, and Stephan Tait as the young Viscount who comes a-wooing.
The second play, The Flying Doctor, is less successful, a long one-line joke about two dodgy servants who dress up as a doctor and his assistant. Even here, though, there’s an impressive performance from Douglas Briglmen as the servant Sganarelle. And although some of the actors have limited movement and speech, the whole 70-minute show reflects the truth that theatre is not primarily about language, or even about choreography; but about a deep and witty grasp of the underlying point of the drama, which this company has, in abundance.