‘Cuckold!’ Suffers at Knightsbridge
Moliere, meet Moe, Larry and Curly.
“Cuckold!,” at the Knightsbridge Theater in Pasadena, is a double bill of featherweight one-acts (“Scanarelle, the Imaginary Cuckold” and “The Forced Marriage”) by the 17th-Century French master.
Although the plays were written with different sets of characters, director Ron Campbell has married them into one not-so-seamless narrative about a village idiot named Scanarelle (Morgan Rusler), who fears being cuckolded by his wife, Martine (Susan Kelejian).
Campbell likens the production to commedia dell’arte, though somehow the arte gets buried under piles and piles of the lowest commedia. The actors mug, shriek, prance, grab their privates and clobber one another with slapstick, almost as if they believed the texts would not play funny enough without a tidal wave of ad-libs. Lest anyone miss out on the laugh riot, a drummer helpfully punctuates the comic gems with rim shots.
Lost in this mess is any sensitivity to Moliere’s language, including the wicked rhymed couplets that made him justifiably famous.
May we please send back the clowns?
* “Cuckold!,” Knightsbridge Theater, 35 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena. Saturdays 8 p.m., Sundays 5 p.m. Ends Aug. 28. (818) 440-0821. $15. Running time: 1 hour and 10 minutes.