France or Texas?

Les Précieuses Ridicules/Them Ridiculous Little Ladies

Rated 4.0 California Stage’s Ray Tatar has come up with a novel project. It’s a double bill of one-acts. The first is Molière’s Les Précieuses Ridicules, in the original French, set in Paris circa 1690 with costumes to match. Then comes Tatar’s wacky translation, which moves the scene to Paris, Texas, circa 1890. Both versions are smart takedowns of pretentious behavior, which is a tempting target in either setting.

The French first half is fascinating, if occasionally problematic. The 11 community actors, not all of whom are fluent speakers, have been coached by members of the Alliance Française de Sacramento, which co-produced the show. Reading the synopsis in the playbill tells you most of what you need to know to enjoy the show. Reading the entire script (in French, or in translation) is even better preparation. James Anderson—as the flamboyant, wannabe poet Mascarille—hesitated over a few lines but recovered.

The Texas reprise is a hoot! The same actors are in the same roles, but with a Lone Star twist. Tatar’s acquitted himself quite honorably in occasional Western roles throughout the years, and he does very well here as George E. Buss (from Molière’s Gorgibus).