The cast and crew outdo themselves in The Misanthrope

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The Misanthrope at Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey. Photo by Gerry Goodstein.show review – The Misanthrope.

The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey kicked off its 49th season with Molière’s The Misanthrope. Director Bonnie J. Monte and the cast and crew have outdone themselves with this sharp and funny production. We are quickly introduced to Alceste, the titular character, played perfectly by John Patrick Hayden, who cannot stand the phoniness and insincerity of French high society. His friend Philinte, played by the always hilarious Jon Barker, attempts to soften Alceste’s prickly manner, although with little success.

This satire is set amidst a complex web of shifting romantic entanglements that do not fail to delight and amuse. While Alceste is in love with Célimène, a witty and sophisticated aristocrat, played with real bite by Elizabeth A. Davis, he must also contend with the cloying affections of the prim but lively Arsinoé, played with scene stealing glee by Louisa Braden Johnson. In addition, Célimène both attracts and deflects three other suitors in her quest to both find love and amuse herself with her own intrigues. The side plot following Philinte’s fumbling courtship of the virtuous Éliante, played by Kersti Bryan, is both funny and heartwarming.

The set for this production was particularly gorgeous, recalling the stately beauty of a French salon, complete with grand staircase and paneled walls. The costumes evoked the formal grace of the era, with the women in beautiful gowns with hoop skirts and the men in long frock coats and knee high boots. Despite the period setting, the most enjoyable part of this production is how relatable it remains to our society. In the end, people have not changed all that much. Be sure not to miss this first play of the Shakespeare Theatre’s new season. It is a definite crowd pleaser.

For more information visit http://www.shakespearenj.org/

The Misanthrope at Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey. Photo by Gerry Goodstein.show review – The Misanthrope.

The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey kicked off its 49th season with Molière’s The Misanthrope. Director Bonnie J. Monte and the cast and crew have outdone themselves with this sharp and funny production. We are quickly introduced to Alceste, the titular character, played perfectly by John Patrick Hayden, who cannot stand the phoniness and insincerity of French high society. His friend Philinte, played by the always hilarious Jon Barker, attempts to soften Alceste’s prickly manner, although with little success.