Zahler has chosen to use a new translation by American playwright Constance Congdon that is less rhythmic and also less sparkling than poet Richard Wilbur’s 1954 English version. By and large, the actors, especially Barkhimer as tolerant “voice of reason” Philinte, make the rhyme-strewn arias sound like conversation. The angular Reynolds contrasts his character’s moral stiffness with some elastic physical comedy, his long body melting down a deck chair as he suffers the superficial tongue wagging of his peers or pops up from prone debasement before the love object only to pop right back down at her command. An imposing Jason Bowen brings some contemporary bristle to “little Marquess” Acaste. And a painted Ellen Colton, haughtily wiggle-walking her way on and off stage, drawn to Alceste as if he were some sort of elder-nip, does an amusingly broad turn as waspish, man-hungry prude Arsinoé. It is in fact in her arms, rather than in Beane’s play, that a little dog — one of those canine rodents favored by modern-day Molière character Paris Hilton — appears.
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