Modern couplets

My husband Ken leaned over the playbill that sat on the kitchen table. “Oh. Molière,” he observed, clearly bored. “Is he even relevant today?”

“Funny you would ask that,” I countered. Lauren Marshall’s adaptation of his play The Misanthrope explores the selfish facets of human nature as they apply to the present-day music industry. Ken brightened. Now I was speaking his language—this is a play about “The Rock.”

In this Blue Room production, Alceste, played by a shaggy-haired Rob Wilson, is a Seattle-dwelling alterna-rock musician repulsed by the inauthenticity in the biz. His antithesis, Celemine, played by Giovanna Henery, is a power-hungry singer eager to climb the ladder of fame in too-tight pleather pants. Alceste, of course, is in love with Celemine. And therein lies the rub.

The unexpected verse of the script, in the form of rhyming couplets, initially elicited nervous chuckles from the audience. In the lips of Celemine and Eliante (Michelle L. Smith), however, a more natural flow emerged. Embellishments by audience favorites Isaiah Bent (the ubiquitous messenger) as well as Ken Janke and James Wilderson (the hot-tubbin’ Acaste and Clitandre) stoked the embers of this slow-to-start play.

In a special treat, local indie-rock queen Barbara Manning joined forces with Justin Evans to create and record three original pieces set to Marshall’s lyrics.