Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme / The Middle Class Aristocrat

Rated 4.0

California Stage and the Alliance Française de Sacramento’s collaborative production of Molière’s Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme / The Middle Class Aristocrat doesn’t require extensive knowledge of French to be enjoyed. Even if your French is merde, the shenanigans onstage made the initial, French-language production of the play relatively easy to follow.

But farce is farce, which is why it translates so well. Who doesn’t love to see a dope duped? James Craig Anderson (Monsieur Jourdain/Mac Gordon) is marvelous in both his social-climbing roles and easily as funny in French as he is in English. Of course, he’s helped a great deal by a supporting cast that’s more than willing to get silly.

There are intrigues, costume changes, deceptions, a glimpse of belly-dancing skin and the constant running in and out of doors broad comedy requires. Bonnie Antonini is delightful as the long-suffering wife, and the wide-eyed Patrick Beech is almost as much the ingénue as his beloved, Lucille/Lucy (Jessica Nufeld). The sets are open and flexible, which gives all involved plenty of room to strut/wriggle their stuff. Who said culture had to be stuffy? This is traditional theater, and it’s about as unstuffed as it gets.