Theatre Focus: The Misanthrope @ The Magnetic Theatre November 2 – 18

As the French playwright, Molière is quoted as saying about theatre, “Writing is like prostitution. First you do it for love, and then for a few close friends, and then for money.” 

This is the core of the play ‘The Misanthrope’.

If you ever wanted to see what Shakespeare would wax poetic about our current state of affairs: how social media determines our current reality, our obsession with entertainers and their private lives, and how one’s art imitates life – you must see ‘The Misanthrope’.

Although original at its core is a re-do based on the play that debuted on 4 June 1666 in the Théâtre du Palais-Royal (rue Saint-Honoré), Paris performed by the King’s Players.  Molière, the playwright, debuted ‘The Misanthrope’ or translated as the Cantankerous Lover wrote about the behavior of the aristocracy and then performed it in front of, that’s right, the aristocracy.  It was a risky move as Molière had already been banned by the French government twice before with his plays, Tartuffe and Dom Juan.

The Misanthrope 1666 – Engraving from the 1719 edition


As the Magnetic Theatre website highlights:

Playwrights Andrew Gall and Megan Powell have brought Moliere forward into the 21st century by replacing the French courtiers with rock musicians, pop divas, roadies, and assorted hangers-on.  The story is much the same; Alceste, an iconoclastic rock purist, has declared he is sick of hypocrisy and will tell others exactly what he feels.  He is, simultaneously, romantically involved with Cecelia, a breakout pop star, who is as shallow, venal, and not exactly the most faithful of lovers.

During my interview with the director and cast during the Asheville Date Night Guide Podcast, Andrew Gall explained this version of the Misanthrope had it’s birth originally in Chicago at the at the Wing & Groove Theatre Company and has performed across the country.  However, this is North Carolina’s premiere.

I just happen to watch the opening performance with my friend and recording artist Christie Lenée who is in town to get away from the paparazzi and craziness of the media world. And it was at the moment that the purist rock star, Alceste, played with aplomb by Jason Phillips, boomed, “Should I escape the modern trappings of fame by disappearing to a cabin in the mountains of Carolinas?”

Christie exploded in laughter. She had done that very thing.

Being in the spotlight with millions, millions of followers is hard enough, but having your flaws amplified to gain exposure, get social media mentions, and to attract an entourage of wannabes to feed your ego is the current media and Hollywood factory formula.

The incredible cast of ‘The Misanthrope’ lays this bare but not in your typical fashion.  For ‘The Misanthrope’ every actor must not just remember lines but all spoken word is in rhyming couplets including the beats, pauses, to keep the pace working.

The cast includes:

Jason Phillips
Mary Katherine O’Donnell
Eugene Jones
Heather Bronson
Jered Shults
Daniel Henry
Daniel Moore

Assisted by an amazing production team:

Direction: Andrew Gall
Lighting Design: Abby Auman
Sound Design: Mary Zogzas
Costume Design: Victoria Smith
Stage Management: Jessica Johnson

Only six more.  Six more performances before ‘The Misanthrope’ is out of the Magnetic Theatre. So get your tickets now!

‘The Misanthrope’ is a piece of comic art that pokes fun at the art and media elite.  Or is it?  Is ‘The Misanthrope’ making fun of us, the mass consumers, that gorge ourselves on the rise and fall of those of the media elite?

Molière said, “The duty of comedy is to correct men by amusing them.”  

So to quote aspiring rapper and standup comedian of the play, “The Misanthrope’, ‘Lil Tastee’, “Come correct.”

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