Tartuffe Blog – The Voice of Reason

    As our co- production of Tartuffe prepares to open this week, Philip Buck who plays Clem told us about his character and the world that is created in this fabulously modern satire.

    It is often said that in Tartuffe, Cleante, on whom the role of Clem in Dominic and Andrew’s version is based, is the voice of reason. Would you agree that this is also true of Clem ?

    I think, yes, definitely. Clem is supposed to represent ‘the voice of reason’ and you can often point to characters in plays by Molière that perform that role, for example Philinte in The Misanthrope which I also played in the production by stf and Bristol Old Vic a few years ago. Having said that though, Andrew and Dominic have written a character that is also so much more; he’s a brother, best friend, confidant and uncle to the other characters in the play. He’s also deeply flawed in many ways; certainly not a goody-goody, annoying ‘I told you so’ type, but someone who is battling his own addictions while at the same time attempting to help those he loves from making huge mistakes that have even bigger (and this being a comedy) farcical consequences.

    Do you have any other favourite characters in the play, other than Clem? If so, who and why?

    ALL OF THEM! You don’t expect me to name favourites do you? The thing about all the characters in the show is that none of them conform to how you might think they should behave and so they constantly surprise you. So…if you think you know Molière , think again.

    What have you most enjoyed about rehearsals and what have been the challenges?

    The wonderful thing about working with Andrew is that each rehearsal is like a masterclass in acting. There are very few like him around. He has an ability to put together casts and teams that complement each other in their different ways of working so that what happens very quickly is that you become a close family, with all its joyous dysfunctions! I genuinely enjoy watching the other guys being so funny and working so effortlessly to create such an absurd but ultimately real world.

    And challenges? I could tell you but then….

    Finally, how do you feel updating the setting to present day London adds to the play for modern audiences?

    It’s a great idea. In updating the play to the present day, Andrew and Dominic have taken Molière’s critique of hypocrisy and created a satire that is incredibly relevant. It brilliantly exposes the kind of wild claims and false promises that various political leaders have served up in this so-called post-truth / alternative-fact world. If ever there was a time for laughing at and exposing those attempting to sell snake oil I would suggest this might be it!

    At the same time, by setting the play wholly within the events of a single day and a modern single family we can identify with the different characters on a more personal level so that we can laugh at them (or is it ourselves!) more easily.

    Our co-production of Tartuffe with Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory opens on Thu 06 April and runs until Sat 06 May. Read more about the show and book via our main show page.

    Read the rest of our Tartuffe blog:

    Conmen and Imposters

    Truth through laughter

    Laugh until it hurts

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