Dec. 05, 2012 - Issue #894-Upgrades in Motion: Convergence
The MisanthropePeople claim to desire honesty, but when they are granted their wish, they often don't like what they hear. Instead, it's easier to hide behind a facade and portray a carefully tailored image to those around us.
Alceste, the titular character of Molière's The Mistanthrope, isn't one to stand for such nonsense. His disdain for society causes him to isolate himself from it and those around him. However, he's drawn back into the milieu he despises when his heart is stolen by a woman—who's also stolen the hearts of numerous other suitors.
"I think what he's really after is that people don't short change themselves or they don't sell out," Brennan MacGregor says of his character, whose views on society often mirror his own, minus the extreme and tactless actions that Alceste takes to get his point across.
Molière's original script, written in the 17th century centring around the French baroque courts, has been adapted by Martin Crimp and moved to modern-day London. Each character has been given a new moniker and the language has been updated into prose audiences of today can understand, but that's where the differences end.
Afton Rentz, who plays Alceste's love interest, movie star Jennifer Morrison, explains the original portrayal of the French court is akin to the portrayal of celebrities in modern media.
"Those were the famous people. There was no TV, there was no radio, there was no outside media in that regard, so the people everyone knew were the monarchs: the princesses, the dukes, the earls, all those kind of things. I think it's interesting, the parallel Martin Crimp draws in making Jennifer a movie star, because those are the people we all know today," she notes.
To embody the flirtatious, charismatic starlet, Rentz did a great deal of research into the psychology behind fame and while her character is only 22 years old—one year older than Rentz to be exact—Jennifer has been privy to more than Rentz believes she should have at such an age.
"The term was 'objectively self-aware,' so they're aware that everybody else is paying more attention to them than other people and that is obviously very stressful. You become very self-critical," she says, adding the play itself delves deeply into the psychology of people in general. "How people portray who they want to other people, or to the outside world instead of who they really are."
This is precisely the behaviour Alceste has come to detest, and he throws himself into his artistic work to shut it all out. However, despite his anti-social, at times petulant and temperamental ways, MacGregor hopes audiences can warm up to him.
"It's really easy to dislike Alceste and I get it, but you've got to stick with it," MacGregor says. "He's actually honest and says what he means. Yeah, it's harsh, it's ridiculous and totally ironic half the time because sometimes he lies to himself, but he's honest. He wants to be honest; he wants to tell you what he thinks. If what you're doing is legitimate, Alceste will be your first champion."
Wed, Dec 5 – Sat, Dec 15 (8 pm, 2 pm Sunday matinee)
Directed by Janine Waddell Hodder
Walterdale Playhouse, $12-$18 vueweekly.com comments: powered by Disqus
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