3 W 5 M 3 flex about 75 minutes 1 set
This is an adaptation of Moliere’s The Miser. Not much has changed since Moliere’s time about the love of money and power. My version stresses the powerlessness of women to make choices, and also a class system that I believe is still very much alive today.
Harpagon, the miser or tightwad of the title, is a wealthy and avaricious widower who wants to marry Marianne, a young woman he passed by on the street. Unbeknownst to him, his son Cleante is in love with Marianne, and has been visiting her without divulging his name. Harpagon also wants to marry his daughter Elise off to an old and wealthy widower, Signor Anselm. He is clueless to the fact that Elise is in love with Valere, a young man of noble birth who has gotten a job as a steward in Harpagon’s household to be near Elise. But he has all the money, and all the power; and all seems lost for the young lovers until Fletch, Cleante’s valet, steals Harpagon’s money box hidden in the garden. A last minute reveal shows Anselm is the long lost father of Valere and Marianne. True to the original, all ends well – everyone pairs off with who they love. Diverting a bit from the original, Harpagon, in his heart stopping delirium over getting his money back, leaves the audience wondering whether his heart is stopping from joy or a heart attack.
ELISE: Oh, Valere, Valere, Valere.
VALERE: What, what, what, sweet Elise? Do you regret saying yes?
ELISE: No! Well, not really. I don’t know! I’m like a weeping willow in a wild tornado and the winds of love are whipping my emotions every which way! I think: He loves me! But then I think: but does he love me true? How can I know? And then the breeze of reason comes- yes, he does love me.
VALERE: My poor wind whipped poppet!
ELISE: I love when you call me a poppet
VALERE: My precious little poppet. Thank goodness for the breeze of reason.
ELISE: And then my fear returns for another reason. What will my father think? From whom we must hide our feelings? Whom we deceive under his own roof?
VALERE: We won’t always have to de-
ELISE: It’s thrilling, isn’t it – deceiving someone? Had I known how this felt, I might have done it earlier.
Selected by the Actor’s Equity Association for Western Regional Playwriting Reading Series 2016, St. Ignatius College Prep, Chicago.
“engaging,” “witty,” “exceptionally well-executed and laugh-out-loud funny,” and “a whip-smart re-interpretation of a classic piece of theater.”
Reading committee, Benchmark Theater, Denver
THE MARRIAGE BROKER AS EGO STROKER
HARPAGON: Saving me money is not the same as having money I can hold in my hands.
FROSINE: She’s 19. You’ll have plenty to hold in your hands. Plus, they have some property in a foreign land. It will be yours.
HARPAGON: There is something else that bothers me.
FROSINE: What? That she can’t spin gold out of straw?
HARPAGON: She is so young. I’m a little bit afraid she’ll think I’m too old for her, no matter now good my musculature is.
FROSINE: Relax! She has no desire for young men. What she likes are knee shawls, canes, and spectacles. For her that signifies the maturity and wisdom of a man who, like a side of beef at the butcher’s, is well hung and aged.
HARPAGON: Knee shawls, canes, and spectacles! That is almost too good to be true! You know, I’ve often thought, if I were a young woman, I would want an old man.
FROSINE: Absolutely, me as well. What are young men but good looking idiots? They’re like wild steeds, stallions that rage and run and pound the ground in a frenzy of passion, making the bushes tremble. Who needs that?
AFTER A CLANDESTINE ENCOUNTER
JACQUES: Where have you been, Valere?
VALERE: I had orders to - subdue Elise.
JACQUES: Subdue her? What, was she foaming at the mouth?
VALERE: No, Master Harpagon was afraid she wanted to do something rash or impetuous.
FLETCH: Like what?
VALERE: Like jumping out of the window, if you must know.
FLETCH: And did you overcome her desire?
VALERE: No. I mean yes. Yes I overcame her desire and no she did not jump out of the window.
adapted from Moliere's "The Miser"
3 W 5 M 75 minutes 1 set