by Jean Baptiste Molière
English verse by
Timothy Mooney

Comedy: Five Acts, Estimated Running Time 100 minutes (without intermission).
40-minute version available.

Cast: 10 Male, 4 Female*, 14 Total (see details).

Setting: Single Interior Setting (see details).

“Somehow it all hangs together beautifully. The ingeniously constructed, teasing rhymes add a rich overlay of stylistic repartee to what is otherwise merely an outrageous situation. Some purists might quarrel that Mooney has taken excessive liberties in reworking the original, but this "Miser'' really does seem to jump off the page with new energy. (Chicago Tribune)

Nothing stingy about Stage Two’s ‘Miser’ …Mooney’s iambic pentameter enlivens the story and puts some extra punch in its punchlines. And if you fear an evening of dry classicism, Mooney is only too willing to stoop to conquer. … Thanks to Mooney’s nimble pen and cast, “The Miser” makes for a generous evening of theater. (Pioneer Press)


Cast, Set Details

CAST:
10 Male, 4 Female*, 14 Total
* These numbers reflect traditional casting; there is no reason why some traditionally “male” characters, such as “lackeys” could not be cast as women.

DRAMATIS PERSONAE:
HARPAGON, father of Cleante and Elise, and in love with Mariane.
ANSELME, father of Valere and Mariane.
CLEANTE, son of Harpagon, in love with Mariane.
ELISE, daughter of Harpagon, in love with Valere.
VALERE, son of Anselme, in love with Elise.
MARIANE, daughter to Anselme, in love with Cleante.
FROSINE, a woman of intrigue.
SIMON, a broker.
MASTER JACQUES, cook and coachman to Harpagon.
LA FLECHE, servant to Cleante.
DAME CLAUDE, servant to Harpagon.
BRINDAVOINE,
> Harpagon’s Lackeys
LA MERLUCHE,
A COMMISSIONER

SCENE:
Single Interior* Setting: Harpagon’s house in Paris
* This play has also been successfully set outdoors.


About the Adaptation

The Miser (1668) is one of what I refer to as Moliere's great "character" plays. Moliere has a talent for taking a single trait and placing it at the center of the action, making the entire play revolve around that characteristic. Every time we come back to see the trait play itself out in a new context it seems more and more outrageous. The Miser, Harpagon, confuses love and money through the course of the play, which provides a fun platform for twisting the language of one into the language of the other. Much of the plot centers around a money box that Harpagon has planted out in the garden. When the box is stolen, he accuses Valere of having taken the money, and yet, Valere confuses the issue, thinking that Harpagon has found out that he is courting his daughter on the sly. They spend the scene arguing about two different things.

In the scene below, we enjoy the dual language of a disguised sexuality, as Cleante woos Mariane right under his father's nose.


Excerpt

Bourgeois Gentleman

The Miser
Act III, Scenes 8-11
MARIANE, FROSINE

 

FROSINE

Oh, these young boys, they talk with quite a tongue,

But older men are good to pass among.

Disgust toward husband’s healthy to endure,

To curb the instincts and remain demure.

But you won’t have to worry for so long

A death amends this temporary wrong.

 

MARIANE

How dreadful to hold watch on someone’s life!

And death may not accommodate a wife.

 

FROSINE

You’ll only marry him upon condition:

Three months until a widowly transition.

But here he is; we’ll see how all is termed.

 

MARIANE

Oh, darkest of my fears have been confirmed!

 

Act Three, Scene Nine

HARPAGON, MARIANE, FROSINE

 

HARPAGON (To MARIANE)

Forgive me, dear, should I wear spectacle

It’s just to better see one so delectable.

These are not needed, save for, insofar’s,

With spectacles we scan the sky for stars.

To me, you are a star, the brightest starry,

You outshine all much bolder than Centauri.

Frosine, she doesn’t look into my eyes.

 

FROSINE

It’s just that you are such a rare surprise!

These maids do blush when they first brush desire.

 

HARPAGON

I do forget how I alight her fire.

(To Mariane.) But here my daughter welcomes you aright.

 

Act Three, Scene Ten

HARPAGON, ELISE, MARIANE, FROSINE

 

MARIANE

Forgive me being so slow to alight.

 

ELISE

‘Twas my charge to have made the call on you.

 

HARPAGON

These daughters and the silliness they spew!

 

MARIANE (Aside to FROSINE.)

That horrid man! Oh, might we just ignore him?

 

HARPAGON

What’s that?

 

FROSINE

                  She told me how she does adore him.

 

HARPAGON

You honor me, my dear.

 

MARIANE (Aside to FROSINE.)

                                       Oh, what a brute!

 

HARPAGON

What did she say?

 

FROSINE

                          She thinks that you are cute.

 

HARPAGON

Such joy, my love! My sweet!

 

MARIANE (Aside to FROSINE.)

                                                I might explode!

 

FROSINE

She longs for when she might join your abode.

 

Act Three, Scene Eleven

HARPAGON, MARIANE, ELISE, CLEANTE, VALERE, FROSINE, BRINDAVOINE

 

HARPAGON

Ah, here’s my son, and now the family’s here.

 

MARIANE (Aside to FROSINE.)

Frosine! It’s he! The one I held so dear!

 

FROSINE

Oh, what a chance! Had I but fully known ...

 

HARPAGON

Surprised my children are so fully grown?

 

CLEANTE (To Mariane.)

Dear miss, this news today came unexpected

You might imagine I was quite affected.

 

MARIANE

I understand, and greatly sympathize.

This overtakes us both as a surprise.

 

CLEANTE (Aloud.)

My father could not make a fairer choice

And I, to his love-making add a voice.

And yet, I would that he had found another.

I’ve no desire to see you as my mother.

I hope that this is not to you so vital,

But may I never know you by that title.

Some certain few might hear my words as rude,

But I suspect they’ll not be misconstrued.

This marriage gives me quite a strong aversion,

And thoughts thereof do strike me as perversion.

You know that to this wedding I’m opposed

And I might only wish you’d be exposed!

 

HARPAGON

Apologize, you cad! For certain it

Is bordering upon impertinent!

 

MARIANE

My heart, like yours, does also seem to shun

I have no wish to see you as my son.

I’ve no desire to cause you such distress.

Instead I’d to the matchmaker address:

Were I not forced by power absolute

I would contest this firmly resolute.

 

HARPAGON

Well played! You take him out with expert style.

My wicked son’s determined but to rile

He knows not what he says; the little brat!

 

MARIANE

No, truly, I must say, I credit that

The words he flings in no way do offend;

I only wish his problem I might mend.

I much prefer a frank and bold confession

Delivered with a brave and stern expression.

Had he used other lines, I’d hold him less.

 

HARPAGON

Such grace, for heinous faults of his to bless.

Such errors he will one day grow to grieve.

 

CLEANTE

I’ll not. I hope the lady will believe.

 

HARPAGON

Again the insolence? Why thus persist?

 

CLEANTE

I can’t betray my heart, which does insist.

 

HARPAGON

I warn you son to find another theme.

 

CLEANTE

I, then, will speak on your behalf, and seem

To say I’ve never seen one quite so charming;

To be without you strikes me as alarming.

To please you only would be fondest rapture

Your love is finest flag for one to capture,

Which I would choose ‘gainst noblest of birth

To make of me, the happiest on earth.

No obstacle would seem to me too big ...

 

HARPAGON

That’s quite enough; no need to lose your wig.

 

CLEANTE

I only compliment with fond regards on your behalf.

 

HARPAGON

I do my own lovemaking, son. I’ve no need for a staff.

(Pause. No one seems to know where to look.)