Arts Preview Singapore Theatre

Preview: Molière’s Tartuffe – The Imposter by Wild Rice

In celebration of the 400th anniversary of iconic French playwright Molière’s birth, Wild Rice has commissioned a new adaptation of Tartuffe: The Imposter. Featuring a new script by critically-acclaimed playwright Joel Tan, this bold, thought-provoking update on Molière’s satirical classic will be directed by Wild Rice’s Co-Artistic Director, Glen Goei.

“Joel has written a bitingly funny adaptation of a world classic that Glen and I have been dreaming of staging for many years,” says Founding Artistic Director Ivan Heng, who will be leading the cast. “In keeping with our mission of reimagining the world’s classics for Singapore audiences today, we have assembled an amazing team of designers and a terrific company of actors. I can’t wait to get back on stage and make magic with them all!”

First produced in 1664, the play introduces audiences to the titular Tartuffe (played by Benjamin Chow), a charming, seductive con artist masquerading as a man of faith. Chaos and calamity ensue when Orgon (played by Ivan Heng), a wealthy, gullible man, falls for Tartuffe’s lies and schemes. Everyone else smells a rat, even as Tartuffe weasels his way into Orgon’s home, heart and bank account. What will it take for Orgon to finally see the light? Can unholy disaster be averted? Or will blind devotion win the day?

On what inspired him in adapting this play for Singapore audiences, Tan says, “Tartuffe cracks me up, but there’s also something humbling and sobering about a French play reaching out from the 17th century and having so much to say about all of us in modern day Singapore.”

Tartuffe’s themes of hypocrisy and moral outrage still resonate today. What happens when you let the religious hypocrites in, to the point that they determine the practices of your household – and, by extension, your neighbourhood, your town, and your entire political system?” he adds. “The more I learned about Tartuffe, the more it felt like a play that could have been written about us, just last week.”

Director Glen Goei needs no introduction, having helmed some of Wild Rice’s most renowned productions, including Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, Boeing Boeing, and La Cage Aux Folles. “Tartuffe has always been one of my favourite plays, because it walks the knife-edge of being incredibly funny whilst also challenging you to think about the bigger questions of faith, morality and blind devotion,” says Goei. “Over the past few months, we’ve collaborated with our fantastic creative team to dream up the contemporary yet classical world of Tartuffe. I’m looking forward to getting into the rehearsal room with this cast full of Singapore’s most brilliant performers!”

Joining Heng and Chow on stage will be award-winning actress Pam Oei, alongside Oon Shu An, Jo Tan, Shane Mardjuki, Brendon Fernandez and Dennis Sofian. “We are keeping all our fingers crossed that the government will soon reinstate fullcapacity seating in venues like ours,” says Heng. “Our audiences deserve to see a thrilling production like this that makes full use of the potential of The Ngee Ann Kongsi Theatre!”

Molière’s Tartuffe: The Imposter plays from 7th to 24th April 2022 at The Ngee Ann Kongsi Theatre. Tickets available from SISTIC

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