Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
The Daily Lobo The Independent Voice of UNM since 1895
Latest Issue
Read our print edition on Issuu

‘Miser’ smooth, but lacks passion

Little theater production hits all the right notes, yet fails to move its audience

Like an arranged marriage between a wealthy old man and a young maiden, the Albuquerque Little Theater’s production of Moliere’s “The Miser” is technically perfect but lacks passion.

“The Miser” tells the tale of the wealthy but aged Harpagon’s twisted family life. Harpagon’s love of lucre and his lust for his impoverished, beautiful neighbor threatens the happiness of his children, Cleante and Elise.

Being dutiful offspring, Cleante and Elise hatch a plot to undermine their father’s plans to give them a stepmother younger than they are. Add to this mess a conniving matchmaker and a nobly born manservant, and what one should have is a recipe for an evening of fun.

Unfortunately, the pursuit of technical perfection beat the magic out of this otherwise wonderful show. Set, lights, acting, direction — “The Miser” smacks of skill and precision.

Every line and motion in this 17th century slapstick comedy is scripted and rehearsed to perfection.

Therein lies “The Miser’s” only, but major, flaw. The actors are obviously actors. There were no glaringly poor performers in the cast, but there were no exceptional performances either.

Enjoy what you're reading?
Get content from The Daily Lobo delivered to your inbox

Ray Orley, who played Harpagon, was clearly the most comfortable performer in the bunch. Orley delivered his lines with panache and was appropriately absorbed with his character. Orley appears in one particularly fine first act scene with the matchmaker Fosine, played by Marty Hill.

Hill sparkles when her character is given the floor. However, she fades away and loses touch when Fosine is not the center of attention. Ed Chavez does a fine job as Harpagon’s foppish son and dives headlong into his character, who is often the funniest actor in his scenes.

However, detracting from the quality of his performance are Chavez’s clumsy attempts at physical comedy and his compulsion to deliver his lines at the speed of light. However, Chavez’s hurriedness, when it is not irritatingly obvious that he is speeding through his performance, does complement his character’s personality.

Laura Armstrong was a disappointment as Elise. Armstrong’s performance fails to live up to her potential. Everyone privileged to see Armstrong’s brilliant performance in ALT’s Glass Menagerie earlier this year is well aware of her marvelous talent, whereas her performance in “The Miser” is rote and dull. She never quite seems comfortable with the part of Elise, and Armstrong’s half-hearted portrayal adds a certain staleness to the production.

Added to this, the format of the sets and lights are a bit ostentatious. Loud and colorful, they wind up being much too distracting. In this case, the acting was not so poor that the lights and sets should have stolen the audience’s attention away from the cast.

With an eye for detail and precision, however, director Paul Ford enables his cast and crew to turn out a remarkably tight and clean production. Unfortunately, this wonderful and rare precision was not tempered with enough heart. Slapstick and farce require a little enthusiasm along with technical skill.

“The Miser” is a good show and those who wish to sit back and admire the skills of the cast and crew will enjoy it. On the other hand, those expecting to lose themselves in the comic world of Moliere are advised to save their pennies.

“The Miser” runs through August 26 at the Albuquerque Little Theater, 224 San Pasquale Ave. SW. Tickets start at $16 and can be bought by calling 242-4750.

Powered by SNworks Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2024 The Daily Lobo