[img]http://hits.guardian.co.uk/b/ss/guardiangu-feeds/1/H.20.3/99584?ns=guardian&pageName=In+praise+of%E2%80%A6+Moli%C3%A8re%3AArticle%3A1316340&ch=Comment+is+free&c3=Guardian&c4=Moli%C3%A8re%2CStage%2CComedy+live+%28Stage%29%2CTheatre%2CKeira+Knightley+%28Film%29%2CFilm%2CWest+End&c6=Editorial&c7=09-Dec-09&c8=1316340&c9=Article&c10=Editorial&c11=Comment+is+free&c13=In+praise+of+...+%28editorial+series%29&c25=Comment+is+free&c30=content&h2=GU%2FComment+is+free%2Fblog%2FComment+is+free[/img]There is no point pretending that the play itself will be the main attraction to lots of the audience at London's Comedy Theatre when its new show officially opens next week. The West End debut of Keira Knightley will irresistibly get all the headlines and shift a lot of the tickets, though the rest of the cast of The Misanthrope â€“ including Damian Lewis, Dominic Rowan and Tara Fitzgerald â€“ are not exactly duffers. A special word of welcome is due, nevertheless, for the overdue return to the London stage of any play by Molière, who is an all too rarely performed dramatist in this country these days. We haven't yet reached the point where any reference to Molière requires a footnote to explain that he was a celebrated 17th-century French comic playwright. Yet things may be heading that way. Even the National Theatre, which in its early days was a staunch champion of his work, seems to have lost interest, with just a single production of Molière's work â€“ Tartuffe â€“ in the past 17 years. One part of the problem may be the decline of French A-level, and the gradual relegation of Molière from set-author status. More widely, though, British knowledge of French culture, like British knowledge of other European cultures, seems to be on the slide. A modern-day version of The Misanthrope by Martin Crimp, a writer who always likes to tweak the original, may not be the ideal opportunity to discover Molière's brilliantly observed comic world. But it is certainly a lot better than no opportunity at all.
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Guardian: In praise ofâ€¦ Molière
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