Arts and Entertainment

Farcical ‘Tartuffe,’ with a modern-day twist, will be staged at Ober Park

Phil Dunn, left, and Stephen Floyd, play lead roles in ‘Tartuffe.” - Courtesy photo
Phil Dunn, left, and Stephen Floyd, play lead roles in ‘Tartuffe.”
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Paul Shapiro, the Islander who last year brought “Twelfth Night” to the Village Green, is directing another outdoor drama production that again promises to be a crowd-pleaser.

This weekend, Shapiro’s rendition of Molière’s farce “Tartuffe,” first performed in 1664 for the king of France, will take place at Ober Park. But unlike the 1664 production, Shapiro’s version will be set in modern-day San Francisco. And rather than Molière’s actual script, which is written in verse, Shapiro is using a popular prose translation.

“I’ve taken lots of liberties,” he added.

Last year’s outdoor play, Shapiro’s first on Vashon, drew large crowds and lots of laughs. Shapiro, who this time around plays an old grandma in drag, expects there will be a similar response to what he called his “wacky” rendition of “Tartuffe.”

“It’s very funny and very physical,” he said.

Many of the actors who were in “Twelfth Night” will be in “Tartuffe.” Cast members include Phil Dunn, Stephen Floyd, Tim Morrison, Lisa Breen, Ravenna Koenig, Jeanne Dougherty and others.

The play will be dedicated to Mark Sheppard, who died in March and played a critical role in encouraging Shapiro to produce “Twelfth Night,” Shapiro said.

Only two people showed up for the first rehearsal last year, he recalled — Sheppard and one other thespian. Discouraged, Shapiro decided Vashon really couldn’t embrace his effort to stage a locally produced outdoor play. But Sheppard thought it was a good idea, so he called a bunch of people he knew and pulled a cast together. Sheppard played Toby Belch in last year’s performance.

“Without Mark, the show wouldn’t have happened,” Shapiro said.

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