Satire in Sactown

Misanthrope Re-Imagined; 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, with a special benefit performance at 7 p.m. on Sunday, June 21; $21-$25. Geery Theater, 2130 L Street; Through June 27.

When Closet Door Theatre’s Kenneth Figeroid decided to adapt and modernize his favorite play, Moliere’s The Misanthrope (The Cantankerous Lover), he wanted to update the characters and storyline while staying true to the playwright’s original intent of shocking and mocking French aristocrats.

Figeroid was struggling to duplicate Moliere’s sly and biting portrayal of royal court hierarchies, politics and mannerisms in a modern setting when he finally found the answer while sitting in a Sacramento bar.

“As I was observing the bar regulars at The Bolt, I suddenly realized similar characteristics to characters in Moliere’s play: the flirt, the chatterbox, the egotist, the caretaker, the clown, the lover,” said Figeroid. “I could also poke fun of social mores and court behavior, which are also on display in that environment.”

Figeroid said he also wanted to represent the LGBT community, which The Closet Door Theatre Company (morphed from the Lambda Players) is dedicated to portraying in their productions. So by making all characters gay men of different generations, he could explore modern-day issues he saw emerging within his social circles and LGBT acquaintances.

The result is Misanthrope Re-Imagined, set in a Sacramento apartment, and focusing on a relationship between an older man and his young lover, with friends and controversies swirling in and out.

“I feel my adaptation lies close to the heart of what Moliere was saying—it’s about truth, lies, hypocrisies and perceptions in relationships,” Figeroid explained. “It also pokes fun at society, mocking and winking at familiar traits and behaviors.”

Figeroid’s version experiments with poetry, prose and rhyming couplets, another nod to Moliere’s original, while also interjecting modern language and mannerisms. With the 350th anniversary coming up of the first performance of Moliere’s The Misanthrope (June, 1666), Figeroid hopes to keep refining his version, keeping an eye toward a production of Misanthrope Re-Imagined at San Francisco’s Fringe Festival next year in recognition and honor of his favorite play.