17th Century Morals with a Modern Twist

In early February, the Fourth Form Academic Scholars went to the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon, to see Tartuffe, the 17th century French comedy by Molière, modernised by Anil Gupta and Richard Pinto. 

The play centres around Tartuffe, a falsely pious man who lures Imran Pervaiz into fully trusting him, to the disgust of his family, who realise that he is a fraud. To try to remove him from the house, the family plot to make Tartuffe confess his feelings for Imran’s wife, Amira, who he then touches inappropriately. But, when Imran’s son, Damee, reports this, the son is kicked out of the house for suggesting Tartuffe could do such a thing. Still convinced by Tartuffe’s saintliness, Imran signs over all his possessions to Tartuffe. 

When Imran finally realises that Tartuffe is a fraud, and kicks him out, he is left with a tricky situation because the house now belongs to Tartuffe. Tartuffe then kicks the family out. But when Imran confesses that his immigration papers are invalid, the family faces being sent back to Pakistan. In the final twist, when Tartuffe brings an officer to the house to arrest the family, he is arrested instead. It turns out that Tartuffe had a long criminal history and had been wanted for many years.

The story presents many themes. It’s a story of betrayal, manipulation, gender and identity, and questions religious hypocrisy, highlighting the proclaimed virtues of Christianity and Islam. This contemporary adaptation also had a topical spin, touching on Brexit, for example, and modern-day Birmingham, where this new version of Tartuffe is set.

Whilst on the surface, the play might appear to have a serious storyline, the balance between the storyline and Moliere’s comedy was superb. 

The play was extremely enjoyable and highly entertaining, and I think the whole group had a very good evening.

Charlie Martin (C)