Liz Lochhead’s tragicomedy Thon Man Moliere, which just ended its run at the Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh, proves yet again that the writer is one of the greatest artistic talents Scotland has produced over the last century.
The poet and playwright has never ceased to shock, intrigue and entertain audiences with her work. Her latest stage production does all three, featuring fierce acting talents, garish outfits, hilarious jokes and a touch of incest. Oh, and a few c*** words thrown in for good measure.
Set in Paris at the time of Louis XIV, the play focuses on the King’s theatre company, and, in particular, one of Lochhead’s heroes and main influences, Jean-Baptiste Poquelin de Molière, who writes brilliant comedies for the stage. Played exuberantly by Jimmy Chisolm, the audience follows gleefully as the character continually gets himself into ever-more despairing mishaps.
While Moliere may be the focus, Lochhead has ensured a feminist message still shines through her strong female characters, particularly Madeleine Bejart, played by the effervescent Siobhan Redmond. She effortlessly portrays the strong but more subdued counterpart to Chisolm’s Moliere, and communicates wordlessly the struggles of motherhood, pain of lost love and the upsetting realisation that life hasn’t quite worked the way she expected.
At times the plot appears to get a little lost while switching between the stories of individual characters, but this actually adds to its charm as a tale, first and foremost, about the chaotic nature of a theatre company family.
Thon Man Moliere reminds us that the incredibly talented Lochhead is still very much a presence on the Scottish theatre scene, and will not be forgotten about any time soon.