The Tightwad, or The Miser | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

The Tightwad, or The Miser 

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THE TIGHTWAD, OR THE MISER: A NEW FACE ON AN OLD FARCE, CenterLight Sign & Voice Theatre, at the Griffin Theatre Company. Admiring Moliere for his plots is kind of like reading Shakespeare for the songs. But the plot is pretty much all that remains in Mark Elliott and Joe Huber's adaptation of The Miser. Performed by a cast of hearing and hearing-impaired actors, The Tightwad sacrifices the wit and rhythm of Moliere's language but preserves the all too familiar story, about a contemptible penny-pincher and his love-struck offspring.

Setting their play at a Florida resort in the 1920s, Elliott and Huber strive for the lunacy of the Marx Brothers' Cocoanuts or Billy Wilder's Some Like It Hot. But despite some stylish touches--Gregory Slawko's witty salmon-and-aqua set, Jim Lomanto's forceful performance as the titular skinflint, Page Hearn's elegant magic tricks--the script and staging aren't nearly clever enough to sustain interest.

With one-liners older than Moliere's script, the adaptation's scheming bellhops, bounders toting tennis rackets, gun-waving gangster, and cross-dressing medium simply fall flat. At two and a half hours, The Tightwad delivers its farcical high jinks at about half the speed necessary to compensate for the predictable plot and humdrum dialogue. And though director Huber does a fine job of using his hearing actors in inventive, unobtrusive ways to speak the lines of signing actors, many of their line readings have the canned, distant quality of poorly dubbed dialogue.

--Adam Langer


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