While continuously cementing a reputation for producing intellectually and linguistically challenging works, Remy Bumppo is also gaining an Anglophilic rep with a seemingly exclusive pipeline to England’s best theater. A case in point is British playwright Ranjit Bolt’s contemporary adaptation of Molière’s “Tartuffe,” first seen at London’s Royal National Theatre almost four years ago and finally receiving its American premiere here in Chicago. In a production that is ferociously funny, enviably cast and seamlessly directed, this “Tartuffe” proves that Remy Bumppo’s reputation is well-deserved. Translation is the lynchpin of any English-language production of Molière, and Bolt’s octosyllabic, rhyming-couplet modern-sounding text is impressive. As for the famous seduction scene of Orgon’s wife Elmire on the dining-room table by the two-faced title character, not only does it feature one of Bolt’s raunchier rhymes (“And now you’re rushing to the sweet/Before we’ve had the soup and meat.”) but an inspired staging that can best be described as a sexy table tango making full use of the performers’ nimble flexibility. Tartuffe is deliciously unctuous and seems to channel Jimmy Swaggart in his Christ-like poses, Orgon is a self-centered man-child and Dorine is a heavily accented Latina maid straight out of a Spanish telenovela. It’s mirthful and mad. It’s Molière. It’s a must-see. (Fabrizio O. Almeida)
“Tartuffe” plays at Victory Gardens Theater, 2257 North Lincoln, (773)871-3000, though March 5.