by Jean Baptiste Molière English verse by Timothy Mooney
Comedy:
5 Acts; Estimated Running Time 90 minutes. 40-minute version available.

Cast: 8 Male, 3 Female, 12 Total.

Setting: Single Interior Setting (see details).

“Stage Two gives loving rendition of ‘Misanthrope’ … Stage Two has assembled its finest cast for its most self-assured production yet. Credit for this endeavor goes to Timothy Mooney … Hilariously entertaining. As good an actor as he is, Mooney is steadily building an even bigger reputation for his writing skills. Like the original, he has penned ‘Misanthrope’ entirely in rhymed couplets, obviously indulging himself in great fun in the process. …
(Chicago Tribune)

Hillberry’s Misanthrope is a rhymed riot
Why this send-up of manners has never lost its charm is plainly to have been seen and savored in the Hilberry Theatre production that opened Friday night. It’s a tour de force right down the line, from Moliere’s brilliant original to Timothy Mooney’s flavorful English adaptation to the spunky performances by the Hilberry company and director Jesse Merz.
(Lawrence B. Johnson, The Detroit News)
Full Review 

Hillbery’s Misanthrope goes for the gold
Timothy Mooney’s translation of Moliere’s wit survives the switch from the original French with wit intact. It is also wonderfully easy to understand – all while often rhyming, a feat in itself. The one-liners are wonderful, the wisdom both tongue-in-cheek and profound, and the dialogue quick and entertaining.
(Sue Suchyta, Dearborn Times-Herald)
Full Review

Directed by Jesse Merz, this show delights, visually, intellectually, and at the most basic comic levels. Merz uses the amazing translation by Tim Mooney... which delivers all Moliere’s mirth in the cleverest verse. The actors deliver the lines naturally enough, but at times pause significantly to allow the audience to anticipate and enjoy the inevitably crafty rhymes.
(Patty Nolan, Detroit Theatre Examiner)
Full Review


Cast, Set Details

CAST:
8 Male, 3 Female, 12 Total.

DRAMATIS PERSONAE:
ALCESTE, in love with Celimene
PHILINTE, Alceste’s friend
ORONTE, in love with Celimene
CELIMENE, Alceste’s beloved
ELIANTE, Celimene’s cousin
ARSINOE, a friend of Celimene’s
ACASTE
> Marquis
CLITANDRE
BASQUE, Celimene’s servant
A GUARD, of the Tribunal of the Marshals
DUBOIS, Alceste’s valet

SCENE:
Single Interior* Setting: Inside Celimene’s house in Paris.
*“Interior” is an assumption in this instance; at least one past production has successfully located this action in a courtyard.


About the Adaptation

The Misanthrope (1664-6), Moliere plays upon a single character trait, this time the central character's hatred of mankind, and his insistence upon always telling the truth, in spite of what others may want to hear. As such, he insults his friends and acquaintances, refusing, to compliment a man on the sonnet he has written, and taking his lover to task for the many men she entertains. Another recurrent theme in Moliere: love wins out over principle. However much Alceste may rail against society, he has fallen in love with the greatest coquette therein.


Excerpt

Bourgeois Gentleman

The Misanthrope
Act Three, Scene Four
ARSINOE, CELIMENE

 

ARSINOE

Madame, the best friend’s one who gives support

In matters of the weightiest import.

And we both know there’s no subordination

To matters which might touch our reputation.

As such, I’ve hurried here upon a mission

To tell of talk which threatens your position.

I had a talk last night with just a few

Upstanding folk when topic turned to you.

And though, you know, I instantly defended,

I fear your actions were not well commended.

The looseness of your ways and the parade

Of men who visit you weren’t well portrayed.

Your coquetry, I fear’s, notorious,

And they spoke in a tone censorious!

I was astounded at this sharp attack,

And in your fair defense I did not lack.

I spoke of your good spirit and I mentioned,

You only have the finest of intentions.

And yet some things I couldn’t quite gainsay,

With issues that I can’t explain away.

And ultimately, I made the confession

That your behavior gives the wrong impression.

And that your actions may well be the source

Of gossip and conjecture rather coarse.

And that you wouldn’t be so oft mistook

If you took greater care for how things look.

It’s not that I’m suggesting you’re to blame

For deeds the like of which we mustn’t name!

But people’s minds do tend that way to go,

And we must guard ‘gainst vice’s slightest show.

I know you know my purity of purpose,

Intending only to do you great service,

I share these thoughts to help my dearest friend,

And have in mind no other hoped-for end.

 

CELIMENE

Oh, Madam, I could not miss your intent

And I instinctively knew what you meant.

This information gives such inspiration,

I am reminded of your reputation.,

And think that I might repay you your due,

By telling of what people say of you!

I’ll follow the example that you’ve set

Reporting of the good folk I have met:

I stopped the other day at a soiree

And there, some people tasting the buffet

Had launched a conversation that regarded

Where pious folk from piety had parted.

Alas! I fear the prudery you savor

Was not regarded with all that much favor.

The pious face you manage to contort

The way you talk of virtue and distort

One’s honor with suspicion and with scandal --

At snooping out a sin, none hold a candle --

The self-esteem you seem to hold so dear,

While mankind earns your crocodile tear;

Most notably, the twisted way you measure

The nature of one’s inoffensive pleasure.

All this, Madame, to say with simple candor

Was treated as no more than reckless slander.

“Why does,” they asked, “she keep this pious show

When everything she does belies it so?

She says her prayers as much as would a nun

But cheats her maids of wages they have won.

She shows her piety all through the parish,

And yet she paints her face all thick and garish.

On naked statues she would place her ban,

And yet she wouldn’t mind a naked man!”

Of course, I told them they were being vicious

And that your nature wasn’t that malicious.

But still, I couldn’t shake their new conviction,

And they suggested I make interdiction,

To tell you to leave off their moral health,

And rather worry more about yourself!

They said one’s own soul should be much more clear

Before one says how others should appear.

A better plan to let the minister

Decide who’s good and who is sinister.

I know you know my purity of purpose,

Intending only to do you great service,

I share these thoughts to help my dearest friend,

And have in mind no other hoped-for end.

 

ARSINOE

I see a thank you’s too much to expect,

Though I hoped for, at least, a slight respect.

And since, Madame, you have brought out your claws,

My ministrations must have given pause.

 

CELIMENE

Oh, no, Madame, in fact, if we could grab it,

This opportunity should be a habit.

It’s so hard to get an objective view

To know what people think of what we do

And so, if you are willing, let’s pursue

Arrangements for repeated rendezvous,

Where we might tell each other, entrez nous

What you’ve heard said of me, and I, of you.

 

ARSINOE

I’m sure it’s only I whom they condemn;

No evil word is said of you by them.

 

CELIMENE

I think, Madame, we’re quick to censure sin

According to what season we are in.

When one is fast approaching her September,

It may be better to put out love’s ember

When charms no longer stoke the proper mood,

It may be time to play the role of prude.

Perhaps when my attractions pass their spring,

My tone will take on just your angry ring,

I think, though, I’ll wait ‘til that moment nears;

No woman is a prude at twenty years.