Starring Diego Matamoros, Raquel Duffy, Gregory Prest. Written by Mikhail Bulgakov. Directed by Laszlo Marton. Young Centre for the Performing Arts, to Sept. 21.
Imagine the life of Molière in the glittering court of Louis XIV as filtered through the grim lens of Stalin’s Russia. That’s what director Laszlo Marton gives us in his surreal but unsatisfying production of Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Royal Comedians (a.k.a. Molière). In this witty 1936 play, Bulgakov transposed his own uneasy relationship with Stalin, his some-time patron, onto Molière’s affiliation with the Sun King. Marton and his designers actually mash together the two time periods, so that Bolsheviks and secret police share the stage with swaggering musketeers and cunning archbishops. Ultimately, though, the best scenes are excerpts from Molière’s own comedies—especially the climax of Tartuffe, which makes you wish you were watching that play instead.