The Early Plays of Moliere: 4.5****

Do you enjoy plays? I enjoy watching plays but I have just as much fun reading plays. Plays are one of the forgotten genres, yet in order for a play to be performed someone has to read that play. And I enjoy reading them in the comfort of my home. if you are like me we have read the plays of Shakespeare, but in addition to that I have read the plays of the ancient Greeks, the Romans and I even took a look at Ibsen the great Swedish playwright. But this year I decided to move over to France and read some of the early plays by Moliere. Some of his earliest plays are only 30 pages in length and can be read in under 30 minutes, and yet they are filled with some wonderful laugh out loud comedy.

            His first play, “The Flying Doctor”, is a silly one act comedy in which the same individual portrays a aristocrats valet as well as a doctor, and they try to convince a reluctant father that his daughter needs to be removed from the house and put in the country for her to overcome her illness. the illness is a broken heart. You see she was in love with the aristocrat but her father wanted her to marry a much older gentleman. Enter the valet/doctor, who goes back and forth convincing the old man as to why his daughter needs to be sequestered, and then gets caught in the middle of this and has to change character and costumes as he is locked in a house and must convince the old gentleman that there are really two people and not just himself portraying two people. It is silly, it is funny and it is a great way to begin to read this wonderful writer’s plays.

            His second play, “The Jealousy of Le Barbouille”, is laugh out loud funny, as we have a situation where a husband and wife don’t trust each other. The husband believes that the wife is having an affair, the wife believes the husband is a drunken carouser with barmaids and each try to resolve the matter by going to the smartest man they know, the local doctor. Now the local doctor may be the smartest man they know but he is also the windiest person out there, because the doctor loves to hear himself talk and never allows anyone to get a word in edgewise. When he is on stage he steals the play, and I just cannot stop laughing at the antics of the doctor. At one point everyone is trying to talk to the doctor, and he hears none of them because he cannot stop talking himself. They eventually tie the doctor up and drag him off stage, and yet through this entire time that doctor keeps talking. It’s a silly play and yet it is a fun diversion that will make any reader smile and chuckle.

            His third play is titled “The Blunderer” and once again we are treated to some classic comedy. This is considered one of his classic plays and is the first play in which he created all the characters, and is a five act play. It’s only about 145 pages in length and a very simple read. The plot of this is that two aristocrats have fallen in love with the same gypsy/servant. Both aristocrats vie for her hand, but the one aristocrat, Lelio, involves his valet to create scenes in which he can prove his love for the gypsy Celia, and win her in marriage. No matter what the valet does, the aristocrat manages to make a mess of everything and all the plans go awry. This happens time and time again in this play, and each time it just gets more and more comical.

            Moliere is best known for his play Tartuffe, but his early plays are a joy to read, and makes me wonder why more and more schools don’t have his works on their reading lists. They are easy to read, easy to understand, and if you want to have a simple classroom performance, these plays are ideal. Instead schools want to teach Shakespeare, and there’s nothing wrong with Shakespeare, but why not try to develop one’s passion for the theater by reading some of these classic comic plays. Even if the schools decide not to teach these plays, you can read them in the comfort of your home. I found an e-book that contained all of his plays for only $2.99. That is a bargain considering all the enjoyment that you will get from reading these early plays of Moliere, let alone all that came later in his writing career. Give it a try and you might very well become a fan of reading plays!

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