Turbo Tartuffe!

Director Denise Devin certainly wasn't kidding when she dropped "Turbo" into the title of her adaptation of Molière's timeless attack on moral hypocrisy. Happily, it is the only thing about this rollicking, supercharged commedia staging that isn't played strictly for laughs. In radically boiling down Molière's five-act farce to a head-spinning 55 minutes, Devin has lopped off subsidiary subplots and eliminated enough of the text's footnote-mandatory, 17th-century erudition to give any self-respecting French classicist heart palpitations. For the rest of us, however, she has delivered a concise, inventive and deliriously ribald slapstick worthy of Hal Roach, and one that deftly conjures Molière's anarchic, subversive comic spirit. Roger K. Weiss portrays Orgon as just the kind of befuddled, moralistic dunderhead capable of being gulled out of family and fortune by the transparent posturing at piety practiced by Tartuffe (a lecherous Tegue S. DeLeon). As the hard-pressed object of his lust, Ashley Fuller plays Orgon's voluptuous wife, Elmire, with equal notes of sauciness and cunning. Sofia Ruiz's spoiled princess of a daughter, Mariane, is a burlesque of pampered, tempestuous privilege. Mike Angelo is all heat and little head as the impetuous son Damis, while Jonica Patella (who is quickly emerging as one of this town's most versatile comic talents) is hilarious as the household's exasperated, clear-eyed maid Dorine. Costumer Jeri Batzdorff's elegant collection of silks, velvets, brocades, ruffles and jabots effectively flavors the period setting. And Sean Curran steals every scene he's in, channeling Charley Chase as the powder-wigged brother-in-law Cléante. ZJU Theater Group, 4850 Lankershim Blvd., N. Hlywd.; Fri, 8:30 p.m., thru June 24. (818) 202-4120, zombiejoes.com.
Fridays, 8:30 p.m. Starts: May 6. Continues through June 24, 2011


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