Director Dorian Šilec Petek
Translator Primož Vitez
Opening May 2022
Jean-Baptiste Poquelin (1622-73), better known as Molière, was an actor and, above all, a writer of comedies that are still considered top notch of classical comedy writing. Molière’s noble and sensibly shrewd humour spares no one. He began writing The Impostures of Scapin in 1671, five years after he completed his three most monumental plays, Tartuffe, Don Juan and The Misanthrope. He is believed to have begun writing this comedy out of jealousy. But not out of jealousy of a woman, but of Scaramouche, an Italian comedian and theatre director who had returned to Paris and shared the Palais Royal theatre with Molière's company, and successfully staged there the Italian comedy so popular with the Parisian audience.
The Impostures of Scapin brought the great French comedy writer back to the commedia dell'arte form. In terms of subject matter, he drew on authors such as Terence, Rotrou and Cyrano de Bergerac. Molière was harshly criticised by his supporters and theoreticians for his presumed descent from high comedy dealing with serious problems to the form of light-hearted farce. Nonetheless, The Impostures of Scapin, remains one of the most brilliant, intelligent and successful situation comedies of all time.
Having set off on a journey, Argante and Géronte arrange for Argante's son Octave to marry Géronte's daughter from his first marriage. But in the absence of their fathers, Octave secretly marries the beautiful orphan Hyacinth, while Géronte's son Léandre falls in love with the young gypsy Zerbinette. The fathers return earlier than expected, and Argante learns of his son's marriage. The plot gets dangerously complicated and now the cunning Scapin gets involved. After he has extorted substantial sums of money from the fathers and has inflicted heavy thumps on one of them, it is eventually revealed that Hyacinth is actually Géronte's first daughter, while Zerbinette, who was kidnapped by gypsies as a little girl, is Octave's lost daughter. All is well that ends well, and Scapin pulls one last trick to finish it off.
The Impostures of Scapin is an extremely powerful comedy of plots and a prototype of the situation comedy, as this technically sophisticated masterpiece moves with precision at an extremely fast pace, and the characters are actually mechanical puppets, skilfully twirled and controlled by the cunning Scapin. He is the archetypal figure of the cunning servant that Molière presents throughout his oeuvre (Sganarelle, Dorine, etc.), who makes fun of rich, greedy and miserly masters and always takes side with young people and genuine love, and, in the course of so doing, often misdemeanours against the law as well.
The cunning servant makes fun of rich and miserly masters and takes side with young people and genuine love.