Coquettes! (Girls of Some Intelligence) | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Coquettes! (Girls of Some Intelligence) 

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Coquettes! (Girls of Some Intelligence), Tripaway Theatre. In Tripaway Theatre's new adaptation of Moliere's 17th-century "play within a play," Les precieuses ridicules, Mademoiselle de Scudery, the main source of the playwright's farce, asks, "What will people remember in 400 years, my book or Moliere's play?" Just as she is sure that it will be her book about manners for upper-crust young ladies, we can relish the fact that after 238 years we're watching the enjoyable production by Moliere. Adapter and director Karin Shook and translator and actor Henry Andrew Caporoso use modern, straightforward language that stays true to Moliere's intentions and retains his playful use of word games and allusions. Shook keeps the work set in its original time and place and focuses on the simple plotline of two young ladies from the provinces who shun two suitors for not being cultured enough, then fall victim to a masquerade the suitors set up to prove the ladies' gullibility and shallowness. It's a relief to see one of Moliere's plays without it being placed in a postmodern setting.

When the production falters, it's because the actors could have gone even further into the material to fill out these stock characters. Comic timing is absolutely essential for such a show, and at some moments the actors seemed hesitant. Still, Mary Ellen Brennan and Kelly Woods were right on as the young ladies, and Caporoso as Moliere and Allison Talis as Jodelet, his servant wife, captured the spirit of the comedy, making us understand why the play has survived. --Gabrielle S. Kaplan

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