Photo. Barbara Gray
The choreography is charming. The masks and movement are effective. The backdrops and lighting are attractive. The scene changes and cleanups are a delight. In fact, every aspect of the periphery enhances the commedia dell’arte style imposed on The Financier.
All this is as expected from Odyssey Theatre with the return of company founder Laurie Steven as director of a newly translated version of The Financier (Turcaret) by Alain-René Lesage.
But, despite its similarities to Molière’s Tartuffe and its designation as a comedy, this play is hard to fit into the style that is the company’s trademark. In The Financier no character is honest or shows a modicum of heroism and each individual is out to swindle all the others and thinks only of the WIFM (What’s in it for me?) principle.
The characters are so stylized and the masks and movement disguise so much — too much — in a play that is built on conflict and character interaction that even the shock of physical destruction seems at odds with the content.
Despite this, some fine performances, particularly from Jesse Buck as Frontin, keep The Financier rolling along and eventually disintegrating into chaos.
Odyssey Theatre’s production of The Financier continues at Strathcona Park to August 24.
By Alain-René Lesage
Translated by Joanne Miller and Laurie Steven