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The School for Wives

a Play
by Moliere

COMPANY : Georgia Shakespeare [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Conant Performing Arts Center [WEBSITE]
ID# 727

SHOWING : June 26, 2003 - August 08, 2003



Translated by Ranjit Bolt
Directed by Karen Robinson

In rotating repertory June 26 - August 8

The hilariously jealous Arnolphe keeps his young fiancee safe at home, away from prying eyes and radical "modern" ideas. But can love be kept ignorant? As the beautiful Agnes learns of life outside her sheltered world, she sets off a chain of outrageous evenst in Moliere's romp of scheming, trickery and love.

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Not Enough Notes
by Dedalus
Monday, July 28, 2003
It's a great idea, setting Moliere's "School for Wives" in the world of Vaudeville. The anarchic anything-for-a-laugh potpourri that defines Vaudeville would nicely complement the desperation and come-uppance that characterize Moliere's work. I only wish the GSF production lived up to its promise.

At intermission, I felt as if the Vaudeville envisioned by the creative team was merely an extended version of the Monty Python "Ministry of Silly Walks" sketch, as if every act on a vaudeville bill were exactly the same -- not even the same act, but an endlessly repeating cycle of a single piece of schtick from the same act. Where were the singers, the dancers, the ventriloquists, the buxom pre-burlesque players, the baggy-pants comedians, the jugglers? I was somewhat pleased that Act II started with the ever-dependable Chris Ensweiller juggling a bit as the Notary, but it was, I'm afraid, too little too late.

And there was so much opportunity! Using a translation that was very heavy on rhymed couplets would have led beautifully into making the dialogue into an occasional song. Daniel May, in white coat and top hat and tails, danced marvelously through his entire role as Horace (and was hilarious doing so) -- would it have been that much of a stretch to have him do a full dance routine with Agnes? Okay, ventriloquism would have been difficult -- it's a limited skill with limited appeal -- but can you imagine the dim servants as played by ventriloquist and dummy? Barring that, they would have been the perfect slot for the baggy-pants comedian act. And, picture, if you will, Agnes played by the dim bulb who never gets the double-entendre but who exudes sex with every breath.

Maybe the problem was in my own expectations -- when I learned that a vaudeville concept was planned, I was envisioning something like the anarchic irreverence the Flying Karamazov Brothers brought to "The Comedy of Errors," a sort of variety show where the performers do everything they can to amuse and to delight. What I saw was a variety show with no variety, a concert with only one note, a rare foray into slapstick that was so controlled it looked somnolent, an occasionaly attempt at mugging rather than a constant "battle" with the audience, an idea of a concept rather than the execution of one. Frankly, after this director's marvelous Roaring 20's staging of "Tartuffe," I expected more. I expected more slapstick, more music, more mugging. I expected at least one pie fight.

This is not to say you won't enjoy the show. There are many laughs throughout. The set is wonderful, Chris Kayser is wonderful (as usual), most of the rest of the cast is wonderful, and the script is Moliere, which is to say, wonderful. I only wish the show had been more wonderful.

-- Brad Rudy (

BTW -- In another example of concept sabotage, Arnolphe is dressed in Act I in the most beautiful white fur coat, something absolutely right for the period and the style and the character. Unfortunately, our current sensibilities make it seem like a pimp coat. Was that intentional?
I Heart Chris Kayser
by seanddaniels
Thursday, July 17, 2003
Hey everybody, I would highly recommend checking out "School For Wives" at Ga. Shakespeare Festival (and if I'm pushing Moliere.......seriously people).

Chris Kayser and Daniel May are pulling off some of the best subtle physical comedy I've seen in Atlanta. That and Rochelle Barker has once again kicked some serious classical ass with this set.

But really, if you want to be a better physical actor (and not physical in the sense of running into door and throwing your arms up in the air, but physical in sense of controlled well timed out comedic movements), consider this a introductory class.

404.264.0020 or for reservations

And once again, think about me and think about me pushing Moliere...see, it's gotta be good.

style no substitue for substance
by michelle
Tuesday, July 8, 2003
Just finished reading the rave review that the AJC gave this production (by Wendell Brock, the unschooled, underexposed theatre critic we have measuring our products) and I am utterly mystified. Did I see the same show that he did??!!! I am more likely to see a show that he disliked (Richard II, Tempest) than a show that he relishes. That said, I am glad that the festival is selling tickets as the results of his pandering, but I am all too eager for someone to step up to the plate and really criticize these directors. Karen Robinson has a predictable track record of style with a capital jackhammer that leaves me reeling. What story is she attempting to tell, if any??!! I'm exhausted and utterly fed up with the pedestrian offerings at GSF that are heralded as triumphs. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]
Light and Fun
by Rosemary
Monday, June 30, 2003
Okay - you will not become enlightened watching this play. It will not change your life. It is fun - f-u-n. If you do not want that - then do not go. The acting is first rate and the set design is imaginative. Moliere’s repartee is witty and rhymes. I happen to be a major fan of Chris Kayser's comedic talents. He is a very good physical actor. I enjoy watching him “do his thing.” I had not seen this play before, and it was a lovely surprise. I took two elderly ladies. They liked it as much as I did. We all left with good feelings and happy thoughts. If you want to have a light, happy experience at the theater, then I think you will enjoy watching “The School for Wives.”

Note: The repartee is (at times) so fast that I am glad I asked for seats close to the front so that my friends could hear everything. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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